Smoking is inhalation and exhalation of fumes by the burning of tobacco in cigars, cigarettes and pipes. Many of us are aware that smoking is bad for health; however most of us are not aware of the fact that smoking contributes for many dental problems. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, hookah water pipes and any other form of tobacco intake causes dental problems. Dentists should try and educate their patients regarding the damage that smoking can cause to their dental health. Just like any other part of the body teeth and gums are very important and should be taken care of properly.
The growing of tobacco began in Central America around 6000 BC. The tobacco was put to use for chewing and smoking only in 1000 BC by the Mayan Civilization. They smoked and chewed the leaves of the tobacco plant; they also used it for curing wounds by applying the mixture of tobacco with herbs. When the Mayans migrated to other areas – North and South America – they also took tobacco plants with them for cultivation in these places.
Columbus was the first European to see tobacco leaves.
Oral and Dental Health Problems that occur due to smoking/ tobacco usage glass bongs
Some of the major oral and dental health problems that smoking causes are as follows.
- Oral Cancer – occurs in the mouth, pharynx, larynx and oesophagus. Cigarettes and cigars contain several toxins that can cause cancer. The occurrence of dental problems cannot be arrested by not inhaling the smoke. It has been assessed that 75% of the oral cancer cases result from smoking. In its early stage oral cancer can appear as an ulcer and this is why it sometimes goes unnoticed. This cancer can spread through the lips, mouth, and throat and any new lesions to the mouth or lips should be looked at by a dentist.
- Gum Problems – smoking or tobacco usage reduces the blood flow to your body and this includes your gum area and this is harmful for your gum tissues and bones in the mouth. Smoking causes gum inflammation which loosens the gums. The bacteria in the mouth gets into the loosened areas and this interacts with sugar and starch in your diet thereby forming plaque/ tartar that are difficult to clean.
- Periodontitis – is an advanced form of gum disease accompanied by bone loss and subsequent tooth loss is exaggerated in a smoker.
- Halitosis/ bad breath – Smoking decreases the saliva flow in your mouth thereby causing dry mouth which in turn causes bad breath. Saliva is like a mouthwash. The cigarettes contain chemicals such as nicotine, tar etc. and these chemicals stick to your teeth, gums and other places in your mouth. This also causes Halitosis/ bad breath.
In addition to the above smoking is responsible for plaque formation, dry mouth, dry socket, black hairy tongue, tooth staining/ discoloration, tooth decay/caries/cavities, smoker’s palate etc.