Smoking doesn’t only stain teeth; it can also make an impact on the health of your mouth. Dingy stain can be polished off or whitened to improve, but the effects tobacco use causes to the gum tissue can change a smile completely.
The smoke from cigarettes causes the blood vessels in gum tissue and around teeth to atrophy. This deprives oral tissues of the nutrients that they need to reverse gum disease and heal after dental procedures. Healing times are often much longer because of the immune system’s inability to access the gum tissue.
Smiles in smokers typically have teeth that appear long with wide spaces between them. This is because gums begin to recede, exposing more tooth structure and the areas between teeth that are normally filled in by gum tissue. When pockets develop around teeth with gum disease, it is almost impossible to reverse. There may not even be signs of gum disease present, like bleeding or swelling, because the immune system isn’t able to even start the initial process of fighting away the plaque bacteria.
Research shows that giving up smoking can help gum tissue to reattach to tooth surfaces. (1) This means that even if you are just now diagnosed with gum disease, giving up smoking can help you and your dentist treat the condition. Otherwise it is just a continuous battle that so often results in the loss of teeth, and then a smile.
1. Rosa EF, Corraini P, de Carvalho VF, Inoue G, Gomes EF, Lotufo JP, De Micheli G, Pannuti CM.; A prospective 12-month study of the effect of smoking cessation on periodontal clinical parameters.; J Clin Periodontol. 2011 Jun;38(6):562-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-051X.2011.01723.x. Epub 2011 Apr 13.