Oral health and smoking Information for you

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1 Oral health and smoking Information for you Visit our website: All our publications are available in other formats

2 How can smoking affect my oral health? Most people are now aware that smoking is bad for their health. It can cause many different medical problems and in some cases fatal diseases. However, many people don t realise the damage that smoking does to their mouth, gums and teeth. Smoking can lead to tooth staining, gum disease, tooth loss, bad breath (halitosis), reduced sense of taste and smell, reduced blood supply to the mouth and in more severe cases mouth cancer. 2

3 Can smoking lead to gum disease? Patients who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque, which leads to gum disease. The gums are affected because smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, so the infected gums fail to heal. Smoking can lead to an increase in dental plaque and cause gum disease to progress more quickly than in nonsmokers. Smoking can mask problems with your gums, and often when you stop smoking your gums will begin to bleed. For more information see the Gum disease, sensitivity and erosion leaflet. Gum disease still remains the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. 3

4 Why are my teeth stained? One of the effects of smoking is staining on your teeth due to the nicotine and tar content of the cigarette. It can make your teeth yellow in a very short time, and heavy smokers often complain that their teeth are almost brown after years of smoking. How is smoking linked with cancer? Most people know that smoking can cause lung and throat cancer, but many people are still unaware that it is one of the main causes of mouth cancer, too. Every year thousands 4

5 of people die in the UK from mouth cancer. Smoking and drinking alcohol presents a much higher risk. Cigarette smoking and pipe smoking can cause cancer of the palate, tongue, lips and cheeks, while chewing tobacco also carries an increased risk. For further information see our leaflet If in doubt - get it checked out. 5

6 Are there special dental products I can use? There are special toothpastes for people who smoke. They are sometimes a little more abrasive than ordinary toothpastes and should be used with care. Your dentist may recommend that you use these toothpastes along with your usual toothpaste. There are several whitening toothpastes on the market. Although they do not affect the natural colour of the teeth, they 6

7 may be effective at removing staining and therefore may improve the overall appearance of your teeth. How often should I visit my dentist? It is important that you visit the dentist regularly. This will allow the dentist to check your teeth and examine your lips, tongue cheeks and soft tissues so that any other conditions can be spotted early. You should visit the dentist as often as they recommend. 7

8 Will I need any extra treatment? People who smoke are more likely to have stained teeth and therefore may need appointments more often with the dental hygienist who can provide further treatment, thorough cleaning and to keep a closer check on your oral hygiene. Your dental hygienist will be able to advise you on how often you should visit, although this should usually be every three to six months. Your dentist may also be able to put you in touch with organisations and self help groups who will have the information to help you stop smoking. 8

9 Why should I give up smoking? You will have fresher smelling breath Your appearance will improve. Your teeth will no longer be nicotine stained In a few weeks of stopping smoking you may have a better sense of taste and smell Children are great imitators and may be encouraged to take up smoking because they are copying you For advice and information on stopping smoking call Fresh Air-shire on freephone Oral Health Promotion Team

10 All of our publications are available in different languages, larger print, braille (English only), audio tape or another format of your choice. Tha gach sgrìobhainn againn rim faotainn ann an diofar chànanan, clò nas motha, Braille (Beurla a-mhàin), teip claistinn no riochd eile a tha sibh airson a thaghadh. Visit our website: All our publications are available in other formats Last reviewed: January 2012 Leaflet reference: MIS GD

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