Tag Archives: bad oral health

7 Ways Tobacco Use Affects Oral Health

Regardless of which form of tobacco is being used, (chewed, smoked or inhaled) there are no “safer” options. Regular exposure to tobacco in any form can compromise your oral health, leading to a number of significant diseases and conditions. Here are some ways long-term tobacco use affects oral health.

  1. Gum Disease

    Gum disease (periodontal disease) is the infection of gums and bone that supports the teeth. The mechanism behind how cigarette smoking influences the onset of gum disease is still unclear, but many dentists believe that tobacco smoke and nicotine can cause small blood vessels to constrict, limiting the amount of nutrients and oxygen to gum tissues, according to the Journal of Clinical Periodontology. More than one-half of the cases of gum disease are attributed to smoking, and as many as three-fourths of all gum disease cases affect current smokers. This statistic from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows that there is significant evidence to conclude that smoking increases the chances of developing gum disease.

  2. Tooth and Bone Loss

    A study conducted by Boston University’s Goldman School of Medicine compared two control groups: never-smokers and former smokers. Those who smoked cigarettes had a 4.5-fold increase in risk of tooth loss; this number reduced significantly in those who quit smoking. The findings point towards the risk of tooth loss being much higher among smokers, and also found that it may take decades to return to the rate of normal tooth decay.

  3. Bad Breath

    Many people refuse to date smokers because of the “smokey” or “ashy” taste in their mouth after kisses. In general, the odors that result from smoking are just unpleasant. Smoking increases the amount of bacteria in your mouth (dries up the mouth, affects the salivary glands) and thus causes the bad breath.

  4. Teeth Discoloration

    One of the most visible and immediate effects smoking can have on oral health is teeth discoloration. Tobacco stains cause teeth to turn a yellow and brown-ish hue, depending on severity. A 2005 study conducted by BMC Public Health examining 3,215 adults found moderate and severe discolorations were more prevalent in smokers than non-smokers. Also, more than half of smokers reported to have teeth discoloration.

  5. Oral Cancer

    Cigarettes have long been linked to lung cancer, but it is also a leading link to oral cancer. At least 28 toxins and harsh chemicals in cigarettes cause cancer of the voice box, esophagus, colon, and bladder, according to The National Institutes of Health. Oral cancer, however, involves the lips or tongue, palate (roof of mouth), cheek lining, or floor of mouth. Cancerous tumors are formed because of the chemicals found in cigarettes reacting with cells in your mouth, causing a cancerous genetic mutation.

  6. Leukoplakia

    Tobacco is one of the main culprits of developing a condition in which thick, white patches develop on your gums, inside your check, and even on your tongue. These patches are rough, usually raised, and may eventually take on a hardened texture. Eating spicy foods or hard foods may be a challenge for those with leukoplakia. Fortunately, leukoplakia is usually harmless and will go away once the source of irritation is removed.

  7. Delayed Healing

    Smoking increases the chances of getting dry socket, a common condition that interferes with healing after teeth extractions. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot that formed after teeth extractions is lost, exposing the bone underneath to liquids, air, and food, causing discomfort, pain, and bad odor. Smoking can prolong dry socket due to the sucking action involved, according to Dental Health Index. It is advised to not smoke for the first 48 hours after a tooth extraction.

8 Healthy Foods That are Bad for Your Teeth

It’s comes as no surprise that sugar- and carbohydrate-rich foods are common culprits for tooth decay, but the idea that healthy foods could be detrimental to our teeth is a bit shocking. How could foods packed with nutrients have adverse effects on the very tools we use to start the digestive process? In some cases, it’s the way we eat these foods that can be problematic for dental health. We may use unsavory processing techniques, eat them with the wrong combinations of foods, or even chew on them improperly. Other waistline-reducing foods are bad for your teeth no matter which way you slice them. Being aware of these dental dangers may help you to make decisions about which health foods are worth the risk of potential tooth damage.

  1. Dried Fruit

    While fresh fruit contains a lot of water that helps balance out tooth damage, dried or dehydrated fruit is not only full of sugars and acidity, but also clings to teeth where it can sit and decay. This combination is almost as damaging to your teeth as candy. All fruit contains sugar, and even the healthy kind wreaks havoc on your pearly whites. By following up a dried fruit snack with a hunk of cheese, you can help to combat some of the acidity because dairy is alkaline and helps neutralize the bacteria. Swishing your mouth with water after consumption of dried fruit can help as well.

  2. Whole Grain Bread

    We have been told our entire lives that whole grains are extremely beneficial to our diet. We opt for whole grain wheat bread over white bread because, as we’ve been methodically informed, white bread is too sugary while whole grains are not only healthy and filling, but also loaded with fiber. In truth, whole grains contain phytic acid, which blocks the absorption of minerals. Additionally, bran, a component of whole grains, is full of plant toxins such as lectins. In traditional societies, the bran was removed; the whole grain was never entirely consumed. Still, whole grains are better than white bread in terms of refined sugars, so a way of bypassing this dilemma is to soak whole or filtered grains in filtered water with liquid whey. This removes the phytic acid that causes demineralization of tooth enamel.

  3. Popcorn

    Popcorn is often hailed as the best diet food snack you can eat. It appears to do wonders with your weight if air-popped and butter-free. However, the act of eating popcorn increases lactic acid in the mouth. This is because the sugars and carbohydrates found in popcorn ferment with pre-existing bacteria. The lactic acid corrodes tooth enamel, which protects teeth from cavities. If you eat the popcorn slowly, as most diets suggest in order to avoid the overeating that occurs when people eat too quickly, the lactic acid production is worse. Popcorn also causes cracked teeth and abscesses. Chomping down on an unpopped kernel can aggravate a tooth, particularly if it already has a minor crack, and could turn a small fissure into a much worse crack in the tooth. If the husk of the kernel gets stuck in between teeth and isn’t subject to flossing, it can severely irritate the gums and ultimately cause infection.

  4. Apples

    Dentists are now frowning upon apples as it is a health food that can wreck your teeth. Apples are shown to be four times worse than soft drinks for your teeth due to the high acidity levels. Apparently, it’s all in the methods you use for eating apples. Even though lemons and grapefruits have higher acidity, they are not eaten as slowly as apples, nor is as much of the tooth scraped against the fruit’s interior. The prolonged exposure worsens the damage. Apples are also high in sugar, some containing as many as four teaspoons in a single apple.

  5. Coffee or Tea

    Coffee and tea have both been shown to have some amazing health benefits. Tea has been shown to increase insulin activity, reduce the chances of cancer, burn fat, and reduce neurological damage that could lead to Alzheimer’s disease, among other things. Coffee, meanwhile, helps prevent gout, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and type two diabetes. Nonetheless, neither coffee nor tea promotes better dental health. Coffee and tea contain tannic acid, which finds the pits and grooves in your tooth enamel and stays there. This causes staining. Tea is just as bad a culprit as coffee, unless you stick to green varieties.

  6. Sports Drinks

    Although they can be good for the body after a hard workout by replenishing your electrolytes and rehydrating you, sports drinks are often packed full of sugars that can be harmful to your teeth. The additives and acidic components also contribute to damaging tooth enamel. Sports drinks soften the dentin, which is the dental tissue beneath the enamel that determines the size and shape of your teeth. If you have exposed roots, you can erode the dentin as well, causing much more serious damage. Moreover, two of the most popular sports drinks — Gatorade and Powerade — cause significant staining over time. Sipping through a straw can help allay the overall corrosion and staining, as only back teeth will be exposed.

  7. Roasted Vegetables

    Nothing is better for your diet than vegetables, right? Unfortunately, when eating veggies, preparation is key unless you don’t mind taking a toll on your dental health. Studies have shown that a diet of oven-roasted vegetables can be very hard on your teeth. The process of roasting the vegetables increases their acidity tenfold, which promotes corrosion in your teeth, followed by cavities. Roasting the vegetables seems to trump stewing or boiling in terms of acidity, and a simple dish like ratatouille, which consists of roasted onions, green peppers, courgettes, tomatoes and eggplant, contains the same amount of acidity as a fizzy soft drink.

  8. Sugar-free Gum

    Sugar-free gum manufacturers have been trying to convince the general public that their product promotes good dental hygiene for quite some time. Some gums even tout that they are dentist-approved on the packaging. However, it turns out that no gum on the market can actually boast better health claims. Sugar-free manufacturers that use xylitol as the substitute claim several benefits of the ingredient, including lower calories, no blood sugar spikes, and a reduction of tooth decay. Yet, while it may not cause tooth decay, it still causes tooth erosion, resulting in a loss of enamel. Likewise, aspartame, another sugar-free alternative, has been linked to cancer. So, regardless of which sugar-free gum you chew, you’re at risk for some health danger.