Smoking, Vaping, and Your Oral Health


You already know that smoking is bad for your health. Smoking is the top cause of lung cancer. It also has an adverse effect on your oral health. That beautiful smile you hope for may be compromised if you are a smoker. And if you believe that vaping is a safe alternative, you may be in for a surprise.


Smoking Adds Years to Your Appearance

When you see the before and after comparisons of teeth whitening, you can understand why smoking can make you look older than your chronological age. Smoking discolors your teeth with stains from nicotine causing them to look dingy and yellow. After years of smoking, some people’s teeth turn a dull yellowish-brown. Discoloration is bad enough, but smoking can also lead to cavities and loss of teeth.


Increase in Plaque and Tartar

The saliva in your mouth acts as a retardant to tooth decay by constantly bathing the teeth in fluid and washing away some of the harmful bacteria that cause cavities. The ingredients in tobacco products include chemicals which affect the flow of saliva. A drier mouth gives rise to an oral environment where bacteria can stick to teeth more easily.


Plaque builds up faster in the smoker’s mouth and if not cleaned off sufficiently, it will collect around the teeth and gum lines and harden into tartar. This substance not only contributes to tooth decay, but it is also a source of gum disease. If you smoke, you are from three to six times more likely to develop this condition or periodontal disease. Severe periodontal disease attacks the tooth roots, dissolves bone and causes teeth to fall out.


Changes in Blood Circulation

The normal function of gum tissue is compromised with smoking. Blood flow becomes restricted which affects the health of the gums making them more susceptible to infection and delaying healing processes.


Higher Risk of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is not limited to those who chew tobacco. Smokers are six times more likely to develop oral cancers than those who do not smoke. Most of the people who develop cancer of the lips, throat or mouth are smokers.


Besides giving you bad breath and stained, dingy-looking teeth, smoking can lead to serious, if not life-threatening oral health problems. You may think that vaping is the answer to your problems. After all, there is no fire involved and it is only vapors, right? Let’s take a deeper look.


The Downside of Vaping

Vaping was touted as a safe alternative to smoking. Unfortunately, research is proving otherwise. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Additionally, the vapor contains ultra-fine particulates of toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Some of these substances have been linked to cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease.


Even though e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, the nicotine present in them still causes problems. The same problems as smoking. It reduces the saliva flow causing dry mouth. The nicotine in these devices also affects the blood flow which affects your gums and can cause the same gum issues as smoking.


Another downside of vaping is that the inhaled nicotine acts as a muscle stimulant. This is bad news for those who grind or clench their teeth. Vaping can make the problem worse and for those who usually do not grind their teeth, vaping can cause it.


Maintaining Oral Health

It is best to quit smoking, whether tobacco or vaping. Regardless, regular visits to the dentist and professional cleanings will help keep your mouth healthy. Contact Dr. Nishan Halim to schedule an appointment and stay on top of your oral health.


Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in a comprehensive approach to dental care in his Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. When treatment plans include specialty work, he coordinates every step with the practitioners you choose from his referral network. Contact Dr. Halim to schedule an appointment.

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