According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 36.5 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes. Kentucky tops the statistics state by state, with nearly 26 of every 100 adults in Kentucky who smoke.
You may know smoking is bad for your overall health, but here’s what your smoking habit can do to your mouth.
- The tar and nicotine in the tobacco can very quickly stain your teeth a yellow color, darkening to almost brown for lifelong smokers.
- Smoking causes dental plaque to build up quickly, increasing the frequency with which a smoker will need to visit the dentist.
- Longtime smokers may experience increased tooth decay due to reduced saliva.
- A diminished sense of taste is caused by the bacteria that builds up in the mouth as a result of the way cigarettes slow the flow of saliva that normally cleanses and refreshes the tastebuds.
- Smokers often have problems with gum and periodontal diseases. This happens as your immune system is weakened by smoking and unable to fight off beginning stages of gum infections. Advanced cases that affect the bone may even lead to tooth loss.
- The same substances in tobacco that cause tooth staining will also contribute to halitosis, or bad breath.
- Leukoplakia, a whitish patch on the tongue, gums, or inside of your cheek, may appear in a smoker. It may be a sign of oral cancer.