Everyone knows smoking is bad for your health, but did you know it can cause major dental issues as well?

Smoking and Dental Problems

A long-term smoker’s smile is often riddled with yellowness and even dark spots between teeth. The many carcinogens (a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue) in cigarettes can cause major discoloration and lead to tooth decay. Smoking also inhibits the body’s natural restorative processes, making it more time-consuming to recover from surgeries and can create further complications, especially with procedures involving dental work. One study suggests that more than 1/3 of smokers have at least three dental issues. That’s 4x the rate of non-smokers.

The Link to Gum Disease

Studies have shown smokers are at significant risk for gum or periodontal disease. Bacterial plaque—a leading factor in gum disease—is built up more frequently in mouths of smokers. The lack of oxygen in the bloodstream makes it difficult to heal the infected areas.

Remember, just because you don’t see symptoms today doesn’t mean smoking isn’t having a majorly negative effect on your oral health. Nicotine constricts blood vessels, which can cause gum disease to go unseen—bleeding is usually a sign of infected gums, but smokers’ gums are less likely to bleed. Thus, a diagnosis becomes more difficult, increasing the likelihood that a smoker will not only go undiagnosed, but their case will also continue to worsen, possibly beyond repair.

If you or someone you know smokes, be sure to book an appointment to get a thorough exam to make sure your teeth, gums, and whole mouth are healthy. After all, your smile is an important part of who you are.