Does smoking affect the teeth, gums or mouth?
Yes. Most people are becoming aware that smoking poses a problem to general health. It contributes to heart disease, stroke, and to a third of all cancer deaths, to name just a few conditions. In 1992 it was estimated that almost five thousand deaths in Victoria resulted from smoking.
What is less well known is the effect it has in the mouth.
The main damage is to the gums and mucosa, or lining of the mouth. Smokers develop more oral cancers than non-smokers (about five times more) and invariably suffer some degree of gum or, periodontal disease.
Other than staining, smoking does not affect the teeth. However, it also has a profound effect on the saliva, promoting the formation of the thicker ‘mucous’ form of saliva at the expense of the thinner watery ‘serous’ saliva.. There is a reduction in the acid-buffering capacity of their saliva.
This effect of nicotine explains why some heavy smokers get decay even if they are brushing well.