What is smoking?
Smoking is a habit in which a substance, most commonly tobacco is burned and the smoke is tasted or inhaled. This is primarily practiced as an enjoyment or recreational drug use but drugs such as nicotine makes it available for absorption through the lungs.
The most common method of smoking today is through cigarettes, mainly industrially manufactured but also hand-rolled from loose tobacco and rolling paper. Other smoking tools include pipes, cigars, beedis, and hookahs.
Today smoking is a very common practice among youngsters and adults with no age limit. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death. It can cause innumerable health hazards including oral health. The effects of smoking are serious. It can harm nearly every organ of the body. It causes nearly one of every five deaths each year.
What are the effects of smoking tobacco on various organs of the body?
On the respiratory system: Smoking causes reduced lung function and breathlessness due to swelling and narrowing of the lung airways.
- Increased risk of lung infection and symptoms such as coughing and wheezing
- Permanent damage to the lungs
On the circulatory system: Smoking causes increased risk of stroke and heart attack due to blockages of the blood supply
- Raised blood pressure and heart rate
- Damage to the lining of the arteries
On the immune system: Smoking causes greater susceptibility to infections such as pneumonia and influenza
- More severe and longer-lasting illnesses
- Lower levels of protective antioxidants (such as vitamin C), in the blood.
On the sexual organs: Smoking causes lower sperm count and impotence in the males and reduced fertility and irregular menstrual cycle in the females. It is also one of the major causes of cervical cancer in females.
Other effects of tobacco smoke on the body include:
- Irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines causing painful ulcers.
- Reduced ability to smell and taste
- Higher risk of blindness
Maternal smoking has long lasting ill effects on the unborn baby which include
- Increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth
- Low birth weight which in turn affects the growth and development of the child.
- Increased risk of cleft palate and cleft lip
The above are some of the effects of smoking on the general health of an individual.
What are the effects of smoking on gum and supporting periodontium?
Smoking and oral health
Studies show that smoking is a major risk factor for periodontitis. Smoking affects the periodontal ligament as well as supporting bone thereby reducing the attachment of tooth to bone
The severity of supporting tissue destruction, alveolar bone loss is high in smokers than non-smokers
The blood supply to gums is altered in smokers which has a negative effect on the healing response. The response of gums for the scaling procedures in smokers is poor compared to that of non smokers.
Smoking shows evidences of reduced immune response of the body to micro-organisms. So smokers have lesser protection against periodontal infection and higher amount of alveolar bone loss
Smokers respond poorly to the surgical procedures as well.
- Smokers present with periodontal disease at an early age,
- May be difficult to treat with conventional therapy and
- Continue to have progressive or recurrent periodontitis leading to bone loss
So smokers have a higher risk of gum diseases than non-smokers.
What is Passive Smoking and what are its ill effects?
How can smoking lead to Oral Cancer?
Tobacco's greatest threat to health is its link to oral cancer. Smokers are one hundred percent more prone to oral cancer than non-smokers.
About 90% of the population who suffer from oral cancer and throat cancer are smokers.
About 37% of patients who continue to smoke after cancer treatment will develop second cancers of the mouth, throat or larynx. This compares with only 6% of those who stop smoking.
Tobacco smoke from cigarettes, cigars or pipes can cause cancers anywhere in the mouth or the part of the throat just behind the mouth. It also can cause cancers of the larynx, lungs, esophagus, kidneys, bladder and several other organs. Pipe smoking also can cause cancer in the area of the lips that contacts the pipe stem.
Smokeless tobacco has been linked to cancers of the cheek, gums and inner surface of the lips.
How to quit smoking?
The effects of smoking make it extremely difficult to live a healthy lifestyle. So if you don't smoke, don't start. If you are a smoker and looking to quit, start by seeing a dentist to evaluate your dental health and get an oral cancer examination done. Your dentist can help you decide on a plan to quit smoking, and will provide any necessary dental treatment to repair the damage that's been done. If you care about your health, you'll take the steps to improve it -- and prolong your life in the process!