Cigarette smoke leaves a trail of devastation on its way to the lungs. Smoking is toxic to oral health. But if you stop today, you’ll reduce your risk of severe mouth disease in just a few years.
Smokers Taste Worse
You only notice it when you stop: taste, smell, and even the susceptibility to improve a sore throat after the last cigarette. However, how significant the influence of smoking on taste and smell is – and how long it takes for the senses to sharpen again – has not yet been conclusively clarified. What is certain, however, is that smokers let around 4,720 toxic substances into their oral cavity with the smoke, of which around 60 have carcinogenic potential. Smelling and tasting: the majority of the studies found a connection.
The Gums Suffer
Smoking promotes periodontitis, a disease of the periodontium caused by bacteria. Depending on the severity of the infection, this means bleeding gums, gum pockets, or loose teeth up to tooth loss. Smokers rarely have bleeding gums, an important warning signal for periodontal diseases.
Smokers often only notice very late that there is a problem in their mouth that requires treatment. Forty million severe periodontitis cases worldwide are caused by smoking alone. It mainly affects middle-aged men. Every tenth periodontal disease is caused by smoking. The simple formula applies: the higher the cigarette consumption, the more bacteria ensure that existing periodontitis intensifies. By the way, implants also grow much worse in smokers.
Smoking Causes Dental Problems
The list of dental problems that can be caused by smoking is long. The more you smoke, the higher the risk of tooth decay. This even affects the next generation: Even the children of smokers have tooth decay more often. So much for the findings. The causes are not relatively so straightforward. Poorer oral hygiene or an unhealthy lifestyle may be behind it.
But even those who brush their teeth regularly are easily recognizable as nicotine lovers: Smoking dries out of the mouth – and if there is no saliva, more leftover food and germs get stuck in the mouth that would otherwise be washed away. This leads to an unpleasant taste in the mouth – and bad breath.
The Risk Of Cancer Increases
The smoke changes the composition of the saliva. Even after consuming a cigarette, it contains more carcinogenic substances which cause the development of the preliminary stages of oral cavity cancer: i.e., noticeably changed areas in the mouth that can turn into cancer in a relatively short time: Often, for example, the white spot (“leukoplakia ‘), which occurs mainly when smokers drink a lot of alcohol at the same time.
Every third cancer is generally considered homemade, i.e., caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. But anyone who smokes lets their cancer risk skyrocket to unimagined heights – smoking is the number one risk factor that promotes cancer. It usually affects the lungs, but the risk of tumors also increases around the mouth.
No wonder the smoke packs a punch: 90 percent of tumors on organs that come into contact with smoke can be traced back directly to tobacco consumption. The oral cavity, larynx, pharynx, or esophagus can be affected in and around the mouth. The risk of cancer increases with the amount of tobacco consumed. Alcohol increases the risk even more.
On the other hand: those who stop smoking significantly reduce the risk of developing the consequences of smoking: the risk of cancer of the oral cavity decreases significantly after three to five years. And after 20 years, it is just as low as a non-smoker.
Smoking Changes The Composition Of Bacteria In The Mouth
One hundred fifty types of bacteria were more strongly represented among the smokers – including, for example, streptococci, which damages teeth, among other things. On the other hand, 70 other types of bacteria were much less common among smokers, including certain proteobacteria that are very useful for the body because they break down toxins – including the poison from cigarette smoke.
By the way: The bacteria in the mouths of ex-smokers did not differ significantly from those of non-smokers. However, the subjects had all stopped smoking at least ten years ago. The researchers cannot yet say precisely how long the oral flora needs to recover.