Smoking refers to the activity of inhaling and exhaling smoke produced from tobacco or a drug. It is a popular activity, with the World Health Organization estimating a one billion strong smoking population. However, smoking poses significant health risks that include but are not limited to lung cancer, heart attacks and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. Besides these health risks, smoking also affects oral health. These adverse effects of smoking on oral health are as follows:
Smoking causes bad breath by depositing chemicals that stick to the surface of the teeth. The build up of these particles provides a conducive environment for bacteria to grow. Smoking also dries the mouth out, resulting in little saliva to cleanse the mouth and rinse out the bacteria.
* Discoloration of teeth
Smoking also causes discolored teeth. This arises from nicotine and tar in tobacco. Nicotine is a colorless substance, but turns yellow when mixed with oxygen. This leads to the characteristic yellow stain on the teeth of smokers.
* Discoloration of lips
Smoking causes discoloration of the lips through small burns as well as through staining.
* Gum disease
Smoking also affects the normal function of gum tissue cells. This interference increases the risk of infection and seems to impair the flow of blood to the gums.
* Oral cancer
Smoking has been linked to oral cancer which includes cancers of the mouth, throat and larynx (voice box). Smoking contributes to cancer by reducing the immune response, inhibiting clearance of carcinogens from the respiratory system and causing mutations in genes.