How Smoking and Cavities Go Hand in Hand

5 June 2020
 Categories: Dentist, Blog

If you smoke cigarettes, then you probably know that smoking is harmful to your health. For instance, smoking restricts the flow of blood to your organs, depriving them of the oxygen they need to function optimally. And smoking is bad for your oral health too. In fact, smoking can increase your risk of cavities and decrease your body's ability to heal existing cavities.

Smoking Helps Harmful Bacteria to Thrive

Saliva is a potent weapon against harmful strains of oral bacteria that cause tooth cavities. Saliva combats cavities by:

  • Neutralizing harmful acids in your mouth
  • Killing off cavity-causing bacteria
  • Cleaning bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth

As long as your saliva has a pH of above 5.5, the environment in your mouth will be neutral. And this means that your saliva will neutralize any incoming acids that enter your mouth from foods and drinks.

Your saliva contains powerful enzymes too. These enzymes attack harmful strains of bacteria and kill them, keeping their numbers down. And as well as that, your saliva acts like a sewage system, washing away bacteria from your teeth and carrying it into your stomach.

But smoking causes dry mouth. In other words, it interferes with your body's ability to produce saliva. Without your saliva, bacteria are free to damage your teeth and cause cavities.

Smoking Harms Your Ability to Heal

In order to heal quickly, your teeth need saliva and blood. Healthy saliva contains teeth-strengthening minerals like phosphorous and calcium. These minerals help bolster damaged teeth. And blood flow is important too because a healthy blood flow means a fast healing response when damage occurs.

But since smoking dries out your mouth, your teeth won't be able to repair themselves with the minerals in your saliva. Smoking restricts the flow of blood to areas of your body that need to heal, including your teeth and gums. As a result, if you get a cavity as a smoker, your body won't be able to repair the damage as quickly as the body of healthy non-smoker.

Chew Gum and Drink More Water to Help With Cavities

If you can't stop or reduce smoking, then you need to ensure that your mouth is rich in saliva at all times. To do this, chew sugar-free gum throughout the day to stimulate saliva production. And another way to stimulate saliva production is to keep your body well hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day. This will give you at least one cavity-prevention tool (saliva) to work with.

For more information, contact a local dentist.