Before we get down to the actual blog, let’s look at the above image.
You will notice two teeth on top of the cigarettes.
The first one is a deciduous or primary tooth. This tooth has no roots on it and it is supposed to fall out.
The second (larger one), does have roots on it. This is an adult tooth and it is not meant to fall out. The point that is being put forth is that smoking can lead to a loss of adult teeth.
Smoking not only affects the gum, bone and teeth in your mouth, but your saliva as well.
Smoking affects your saliva in the following ways:
1) Over the long term, cigarette smoke decreases the PH in your mouth.
Question: What is PH?
Answer: PH is a measure that is used in chemistry to determine the acidity or basicity of a water-based solution: An aqueous solution, is one in which the solvent is water.
A decrease in PH means the saliva becomes more acidic.
In a neutral state, saliva has a buffering capacity which prevents teeth from decaying. Saliva also assists in washing away food debris and particles in the mouth.
If the buffering capacity of the saliva is decreased (when the PH is decreased), there will be an increased risk of:
a) Tooth decay.
b) Dental Erosion.
2) Smoking decreases the amount of Cystatin in saliva.
Question: What is Cystatin?
Answer: Cystatin are proteins which inhibit Peptidase enzymes (proteases). Proteases are associated with several diseases.
If the amount of Cystatin is decreased due to cigarette smoke, then the overall dental health can become compromised.
3) Smoking causes an increase in two types of bacteria which are associated with tooth decay. These are Lactobacillus spp. and Streptococcus Mutans.
I hope you were able to appreciate how smoking affects the saliva in addition to other components of the oral cavity.
In the next blog we will discuss the signs and symptoms of oral cancer …. After all, smoking cigarettes increases the likelihood of getting oral cancer.
Yours in good Oral Health,
Dr. Robert Axelrad, Brampton Dentist