The Health Effects Of Smoking On Your Optical & Dental Health
Smoking tobacco products can cause serious health conditions like heart disease, cancer, stroke, eye conditions, and oral conditions – that’s well known already. Today we are going to look at the effect of smoking on two organs which play a major role in your well being: dental and optical.
Smoking and your eyes
Some eye conditions that can be caused by smoking are early age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. The most common cause of blindness in the Western world is age-related macular degeneration. Smoking can cause several oral health conditions like bad breath, yellow teeth, gum disease, increased plaque and tartar, delayed healing of oral conditions, inflammation, leukopakia, oral cancer and more.
Some studies have found a connection between eye conditions and heart disease. People that have suffered from age-related macular degeneration had double the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Smoking tobacco products increases the development of cholesterol and fat in the arteries and blocks the arteries blood flow which causes heart attack and stroke. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke can cause arteries to lose their elasticity and they will not respond to differences in pressure and could burst more easily.
The eye can be affected because difficulty and failure of the blood supply to the macula can happen before any other body functions become affected. The macular area of the retina has the finest blood supply in the entire body and they help us see clearly but when damaged is caused vision gradually fails. If there is newer vessel growth and leakage then the retina can be scared and cause very severe vision loss.
People usually begin to have symptoms of age-related macular degeneration in their first eye at about age 65 and then their second eye usually becomes impaired and they become legally blind in both eyes around their 70th birthday. There isn’t a cure for age-related macular degeneration and there are no effective medical or surgical treatments.
People that suffer from age-related macular degeneration:
- Cannot read small print or details on television
- Have trouble recognising faces
- Cannot drive (have trouble reading road signs)
- Have trouble reading medication labels
- Fall easily and can have more serious complications
- Lose all independence and might need to be moved to a nursing home.
Smoking and your teeth
Smoking tobacco products can also cause gum disease because it can create issues with the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth. It can hinder normal functions of gum tissue cells and that interference can cause smokers to be more vulnerable to infections. Wound healing may also be affected because of impaired blood flow to the gums.
Cigar, cigarette and pipe smokers can have tooth loss and bone loss within the jaw. The salivary glands begin to get inflamed and this can cause deterioration of the bones structure. Most smokers have a difficult time recovering from dental procedures and have a risk of developing dry socket which can be extremely painful because the nerve endings and bones are exposed.
All of these types of tobacco smoke can cause pharyngeal cancers (throat cancer), as well as an increase in gum disease, bad breath and yellow discoloured teeth – which can all lead to serious health complications.
Smoking is the number one cause of the post-wisdom teeth removal surgery complication known as dry socket – which is a result of suctions rupturing a blood-clot necessary for the healing process.
While quitting is the best thing you can do if you are a smoker, there are steps you can take to help prevent serious oral health conditions:
- Always schedule regular checkups with your dentist.
- Watch for signs of gum disease or oral cancers.
- Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day.
- Consider using a tongue cleaner and mouthwash.
- Purchase a tooth paste made specifically for smokers.
If you are a smoker and want to quit there are several treatments available, you should discuss with your health care provider a treatment plan specifically to help you achieve your goal.