Cigarette packets in Singapore all come with unsightly health warning labels such as the one featured here. They all send a strong message: that tobacco is linked to a host of health and dental problems. The destructive effects of smoking are especially acute in the mouth because it has direct contact with harmful substances such as benzene, nitrosamine and formaldehyde.
Smokers usually have chronic bad breath and discolored teeth because these chemicals cause a significant reduction of saliva flow. Saliva is essential for cleaning the mouth and teeth, helping to prevent the teeth from decay. Nicotine and sticky tar are deposited on the teeth, causing brown stains that cannot be removed by brushing.
Bad breath and teeth discoloration are just some of the oral consequences of lighting up that cigarette. Smoking promotes the buildup of plaque and tartar, increasing the rate at which gum and bone tissue are destroyed. This essentially means that a smoker is not only more highly predisposed to periodontal (gum) disease; he/she also experiences irreversible accelerated deterioration of gum tissue and bone caused by the disease.
Even after periodontal treatment, impaired blood flow and immune response will cause the healing process to be poorer than that of a normal individual’s. This will eventually lead to tooth loss. Missing teeth can easily be replaced by dental implants in a non-smoker. However, the success rate of this procedure in a smoker is lower.
Smoking is the leading cause of oral cancer. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, at least 75% of those diagnosed at 50 or older are tobacco users. The death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high because it is difficult to detect, with patients reporting that they feel no pain or discomfort. It is also known to have one of the highest rate of relapse, with patients being at risk for 5 – 10 years after their first encounter with oral cancer.
Due to the major health and dental problems caused by smoking, governments all over the world are stepping up the efforts to promote a smoke-free lifestyle. In China for example, the Chinese government is restricting scenes that have actors lighting up on film to prevent the younger generation from a having a glamorized perception of tobacco. In Singapore, cigarettes are heavily taxed and cigarette packets have strong warning labels to deter people from having easy access to tobacco. Such steps towards a smoke-free lifestyle will be greatly appreciated by future generations with health, dental and environmental benefits.
Are you a smoker? Have you found that this impacted your dental health? We would love to hear from you.