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Ben Wilcox
Ben is the practice principal at Shore Dental, Sydney. He graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery in 2004 and…

Ask-A-Dentist: How does smoking affect my dental hygiene? Part 1

January 3, 2014 by Ben Wilcox

Dental Hygiene

Smoking is extremely detrimental to your dental hygiene. Treatments can be frustrating and painful.

Image via Shutterstock.

While many Sydneysiders are wary of the huge risks of smoking to overall health, most people seem to be mystified when it comes to the correlations between smoking and dental hygiene. We've asked our dentists for their knowledge and advice to present you a two-part Ask-A-Dentist series.

Dental Hygiene: How does smoking affect the teeth, gums or mouth?

Smoking damages the gums and mucosa (the lining in the mouth) as nicotine promotes the formation of the thicker ‘mucous' saliva at the expense of thinner, watery ‘serous' saliva, which results in a reduction of the acid-buffering capacity of the saliva overall and a reduction in protection to the teeth, gums and mouth.

Smokers are five times more likely to develop oral cancers and invariably suffer from some degree of gum or periodontal disease.

Dental Hygiene: Does smoking always lead to gum disease?

No, but your chances of getting gum disease due to smoking increases by six times than that of a non-smoker. However, smoking hides the signs well, which often take years to progress and can do so undetected. Smoking also reduces the body's ability to combat plaque and calculus (due to mucosa) that combat acid formation. While brushing, flossing and overall maintaining good dental hygiene is recommended, it will only slow down the deterioration, not stop it.

Dental Hygiene: Can I protect my mouth if I smoke?

No. Smoking, in addition to affecting your overall health, lowers the protection to your teeth, gums and mouth considerably. As a smoker, even if you practice good dental hygiene (such as carefully brushing your teeth and flossing) you are at risk of periodontal disease. However, if you are concerned about your overall dental health, there are two things you can do:

  • Have regular check-ups with your local dentist – at least twice a year.
  • Quit smoking. If you are able to quit smoking early enough, it is possible to maintain a healthy mouth and reduce the risk of serious oral issues (some which may require an emergency dentist). After 3-5 years of quitting smoking, the chance of getting oral cancer is halved and only reduces further with time.

To organise an appointment with your dentist, call Shore Dental on (02) 9953 1124.

Want to learn more about how smoking affects your overall dental hygiene? Stay tuned for Part 2 of our series in the days to come! You may also be interested in checking out our older post on general dental hygiene here: /blog/post/dental-hygiene-a-glimpse-into-your-overall-health/