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What Are The Effects Of Nicotine On Oral Health?

Woman with long cigarette dressed similarly to Breakfast at Tiffany's

Smoking is a social habit that humans have shared for thousands of years. Movies and television have glamourized smoking, and even made it a status symbol for achievement, sophistication and class. But behind the scenes your mouth is paying the price for nicotine use. Studies in the last decade show that nicotine itself hurts the mouth, gums, throat, and tongue more than previously thought.

A number of studies from the Journal of the Indian Society of Periodontology say nicotine may contribute significantly to the development of gingivitis and periodontitis, which can cause bad breath, inflammation throughout the body, bone loss, and tooth loss.

Here’s the news on how nicotine impacts your oral health:

  • Nicotine causes gum recession. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it reduces the amount of blood that can flow through your veins. Blood flow is important for overall mouth health.
  • Without sufficient blood flow, the gums don’t get the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy. Nicotine causes tissue death over time as the blood flow is cut off.
  • When you have oral disease, increased blood flow to the gums is a sign. The gums are inflamed and irritated, and when you floss, or even brush, they bleed. Even long-term chewing of nicotine, like dipping tobacco, snus, and others, can cause these problems.
  • Nicotine causes bad breath. As a vasoconstrictor, nicotine inhibits saliva production. Not enough saliva leaves you susceptible to bacteria buildup, dry mouth, bad breath, gum recession and tooth decay.
  • Nicotine intensifies teeth grinding. Nicotine is a stimulant that triggers the muscles to activate and make energy, making you grind your teeth more, even if you’ve never been a grinder before.

My recommendation

Visit your dentist every three months to monitor and review your oral health. Your likelihood of having disease is greater as long as you’re using nicotine. Regular dental visits are important to prevent tooth loss, bone loss, and recession.

And take another look at reducing your nicotine habit.

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