advertisement
12 January 2009

Gum disease and dental problems

Smoking increases the risk for gum disease, a condition that destroys the supporting tissue of the teeth. This can cause tooth loss; smokers are twice as likely to lose teeth.

0

Smoking increases the risk for gum (periodontal) disease, a condition that destroys the supporting tissue of the teeth. This in turn can cause tooth loss; smokers are twice as likely to lose teeth as non-smokers.

Apart from tooth loss, the other common symptoms of periodontal disease are also unappealing: red, irritated, swollen gums that may bleed when teeth are brushed; halitosis (bad breath); gaps between the teeth and ‘pockets’ around them (an indication that the bone holding the teeth roots is deteriorating).

The risk of contracting periodontal disease increases as the amount you smoke increases. For example, if you smoke 10 cigarettes a day or less, the risk is about three times higher than for a non-smoker. If you smoke 30 cigarettes a day, the risk is six times higher.

There are treatments for periodontal disease, but these are adversely affected by smoking. Tobacco hinders oral healing, as nicotine causes the small blood vessels to contract and reduces blood supply. Poor wound healing can be painful, and is why smokers suffer more pain than non-smokers when their wisdom teeth are extracted.

Discoloured teeth and gums
Smoking also affects the mouth in cosmetic ways. Tobacco stains the teeth a yellow-brown colour. Some discolouration is only on the surface and can be removed by the dentist, but if it goes deeper it can only be removed surgically. Fillings may also become discoloured and therefore more noticeable.

Heavy smokers sometimes have a condition called 'smoker’s melanosis', in which the gums become discoloured, particularly around the front teeth. The condition will disappear after some years without smoking.

Read more:
Commit to quit smoking
I want to have fresh breath

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Myths busted! »

Breastfeeding may reduce pain from C-section Breastfeeding and work - how to make it work

9 breastfeeding myths busted

Breastfeeding will help me lose my baby weight, right? Wrong! We bust nine myths about breastfeeding.

Eat right. »

How watching porn can cause erectile dysfunction 7 scientific ways to cure erectile dysfunction

7 foods that could relieve erectile dysfunction

If you experience erectile dysfunction from time to time, you may be able to manage the problem without any medical help.