Nicotine And Your Oral Health

What Is Nicotine?

It is a chemical compound found in tobacco. Whenever it is smoked or inhaled, the nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the sacs in the lungs. If it is chewed, it will be absorbed through the membranes of the mouth and the nose.

Nicotine will enter the bloodstream regardless of how it is absorbed into the body. Once it enters the bloodstream, it travels to the brain and is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier.

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Dental Effects Of Nicotine

Numerous studies have demonstrated the effect that nicotine has on oral health. It has been shown to affect the gum tissues, the tongue and the mouth in general. It contributes to gingivitis and periodontitis. Here are a few of the known dental effects of nicotine.

Gum Recession

Nicotine acts as a vasoconstrictor. When it is introduced to the body, it will reduce the amount of blood flow in the veins to the affected area. When smoking traditional cigarettes or e-cigarettes, nicotine will cause insufficient blood flow to the gum tissues. Without sufficient oxygen and nutrients that are carried in the blood, the gum tissues will become unhealthy and can eventually die.

Hides Signs Of Gum Disease

One of the ways that a dentist or dental hygienist can detect the presence of gum disease is by observing the gum tissue and its susceptibility to bleeding. Gums that appear red, swollen and bleed easily when they are gently stimulated, displays signs of gum disease. Since nicotine causes decreased blood flow to the gums, the gums may not bleed or appear red in the presence of gum disease. These lack of symptoms can lead patients to believe that their oral health is in good order when it is far from it.

Causes Bad Breath

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Due to its vasoconstricting properties, the amount of saliva that is produced will also decrease with nicotine use. When there is a lack of saliva present in the mouth, patients can experience a dry mouth, increased bacterial build-up, and an increased risk of tooth decay.

Causes Grinding Or Increases The Severity

Nicotine is a stimulant as well. Patients who regularly grind their teeth may find themselves grinding their teeth with more force. Patients who do not grind their teeth may start to grind their teeth. The effects of always grinding or clenching teeth can lead to the need for cosmetic dental treatment.

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If you have been thinking about quitting smoking, consider the effect that it has on your oral health and overall health. Talk to your doctor or dentist about tools to help you quit smoking.

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