Did you develop gum disease because you gave up smoking?

Smoking prevents your gum from bleeding!

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Smokers Gums Do Not Bleed

Have you ever tried to quit smoking and noticed that your gums became sore and bled when you brushed? You might have thought you had developed gum disease because you had stopped smoking, but in reality you had only unmasked the problem.

Smoking tobacco is one of the biggest causes of gum disease and bone loss, as it can disguise the damage taking place to teeth and gums. Usually infected gums are red, puffy and bleed easily when brushed, but smoker’s gums are not like this and instead are thin, pale in colour and bleed very rarely. As a result, many smokers who suffer from gum disease are unaware they have a problem, until they stop smoking.

So, why is this?

Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor. Vasoconstriction is the narrowing of blood vessels by small muscles in their walls. Nicotine in tobacco has powerful effects on arteries throughout the body. In the cardiovascular system the nicotine acts as a stimulant that raises blood pressure, making it difficult for the heart to pump through the constricted arteries, reducing the blood flow to the gum and bone, and therefore resulting in pale, thin gums and no bleeding.

It is very important for smokers to visit their dentist regularly in order to keep their teeth and gums healthy, and to have regular oral cancer checks.

If you do not wish to quit smoking or find it too difficult, you can improve your oral health by doing the following:

  • Reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke
  • Thoroughly clean your teeth and gums twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride (your dentist will advise which toothpaste is best for you)
  • Use dental floss or interdental cleaners every day to clean between your teeth
  • Visit your dentist regularly for advice about the proper care of your teeth and gums at home; early intervention and regular preventative maintenance visits will keep your teeth and gums healthy
  • Avoid having a dry mouth – drink plenty of water and chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production
  • Limit your alcohol intake

If you have any questions or concerns about the health of your teeth and gums, we would be only too happy to help you.

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