Staying away from this dangerous habit benefits the entire body. Its greatest benefit is with oral hygiene.
Medical advisor Ángela Leal – Dentist
Smoking cigarettes has proven to be a leading cause of the onset of gum disease, which can manifest as a simple inflammation of the gums to serious disease causing tooth loss.
Smoking causes cells to change, altering the quality of saliva. These are progressive changes and not regenerative ones. “We have many different types of salivary glands in our mouths, and the more someone smokes, the more cells are affected,” explains Dr. Leal.
Gum disease does not directly affect the teeth, it affects the tissues and bones that hold teeth in, as well as the gums. Tooth enamel also becomes pigmented, which is what generally leads patients to see their dentists, our specialist explains.
“Tobacco use is one of the main reasons implant surgeries are not performed. A patient that has lost their teeth due to cigarette-induced gum disease will encounter many challenges in order to recover from it,” the doctor states.
In addition to smoking, other factors such as the neglect or lack of dental hygiene practices can lead to other conditions such as bad breath or sensitivity: “When teeth become lose and gum disease is diagnosed, the patient cannot eat hard, cold or hot foods, affecting their quality of life.”
The road to recovery
According to Dr. Leal, when a smoker decides to quit, the most important factor for a successful recovery is motivation.
“The first step to take is to get an appointment with your dentist who can provide you with a treatment plan depending on how its impact has affected your teeth,” the specialist explains.
These people should increase how often they see their dentist to at least every three or four months. The next step to take is to restore your oral hygiene, use floss and drink plenty of water. Since smoking affects the quality of your saliva, this reduces its self-cleaning properties.
For Dr. Leal, being healthy is what is most important, “Today people focus on aesthetics, when health is what is most important. Patients should have functional teeth, as the mouth is an integral part of the body.”
Specialists should therefore start by removing cavities, plaque, worn-down tooth restorations and take care of those teeth that are in good health.
“After treating oral health, comes rehabilitation: the patient should be able to use their teeth in a functional way, they shouldn’t feel pain from them and patients should be able to smile,” our specialist explains.
There are several different types of treatments and teeth whitenings for this. These processes, however, cannot completely whiten the teeth.
Dr. Leal is clear that motivation is key to hygiene and that healthy habits are essential to recovering oral health after you stop smoking.
“When patients’ teeth look good, they begin to take care of them more and they are the ones that call and make appointments with specialists.”
Good oral hygiene
In addition to flossing regularly and brushing at least three times a day, it is also important to change your toothbrush when the bristles begin to wear, and use mouthwashes or rinses that help eliminate the bacteria that remain after brushing.
The specialist points out that little by little, with the help and support of family, a person that quits smoking and follows the recommendations for getting their health back will benefit from a healthy smile, will have a better quality of life and will feel better about themselves.
When you quit smoking, you reduce the risk of gum infections and disease; gums become healthier, and due to the greater production of saliva, the body has a greater ability to neutralize plaque.