Many people are already aware that smoking poses risks to your health. What they don’t realize is that some of these risks are increased if you smoke while wearing braces. Doing this can damage your oral health even more than smoking without braces, resulting in harm that can take years to repair.
How Smoking Impacts Your Health
Smoking affects all aspects of your oral health.
One of smoking’s most troubling impacts is the way it reduces oxygen flow in your bloodstream. It is commonly known that this affects lung function, but many do not realize that this reduced oxygen flow also impacts your gums. When the gums do not have full access to the oxygen they need to function normally, it leads to redness, swelling, and even receding gums. It can eventually cause loose teeth, which is not healthy or normal in adults.
Braces already involve a certain amount of pulling on the teeth as the doctor helps them shift into the correct position. Smoking makes this process more challenging by making the teeth either more difficult to move (in the case of redness and swelling) or too loose to move safely (in the case of receding gums or looseness).
Staining is an unsightly side effect of long-term smoking; it happens when the chemicals in cigarettes damage the enamel and deposit tar and other residues in the teeth. While artificial whiteners can help, your teeth will not stay white for long until you stop smoking.
Cigarettes’ effects go beyond your teeth’s color: They also cause increased plaque buildup and make your teeth more susceptible to cavities.
Smokers are at greater risk of mouth sores and mouth cancer than any other segment of the population. This is because smoking causes cellular damage that can lead to cancerous spots. If they are not found and addressed early on, these cancers can become life threatening.
People with braces are also more likely to suffer from mouth sores. When you smoke, it makes it more difficult for these sores to heal, and when they linger in the mouth, the sores become an opportunity for mouth and gum infections that otherwise would not happen.
Smoking’s Impact on the Health of People Who Wear Braces
When you wear braces, these risks are magnified. The brackets can trap chemicals close to your teeth, ensuring they stay in your mouth longer than if you had smoked without braces. Braces also make it more difficult to clean your teeth—and when you’re smoking, it’s more important than ever not to miss spots when brushing and flossing. For most people with braces, this is very challenging, so the harmful effects of smoking and the difficulty of cleaning feed into each other in a vicious cycle. Both smoking and imperfect cleaning can lead to more plaque buildup and tooth decay. Even when your braces come off, smoking means there will be semi-permanent stains you cannot get off.
Another challenge of oral hygiene while smoking and wearing braces is that smoking reduces the amount of saliva in your mouth. Saliva is an important tool the mouth uses to clean itself, and if there is not enough, it can be harder for your mouth to engage in the natural process of washing away excess food particles. People who wear braces already struggle with maintaining good oral health, because food bits get stuck in strange places.
As smoking makes the gums recede, the roots become exposed to damage as well. Bacteria gets into these newly exposed places, which can lead to infection. Because smoking reduces your immune response, these infections are harder to heal from.
All the challenges caused by smoking impact your teeth and gums even more when you have braces, and smokers have a harder time getting straight teeth as a result.
Quitting smoking is always a good decision for your overall health, but it is even more important to do so prior to receiving orthodontic treatment.
If you need an orthodontist in Encino and West Hills, contact us today to get started.