Oral cancer is far from the only dental problem related to smoking. At the South Carthay office of Dr. Suzanne Haeri, we provide general and cosmetic dentistry treatments. Frequently, we help to repair diseased gum tissue and stains that have resulted from tobacco, but now, researchers have uncovered another danger posed by smoking: reduced resilience to pulp infections.
Toothaches are often due to infections of the pulp within our teeth. Dental pulp can become inflamed (pulpitis) due to injury to the tooth or direct exposure to air, but it is most often due to bacteria and the acid they produce entering the pulp chamber. This would happen as a result of dental infections incurred through poor oral hygiene, which are exacerbated by smoking.
In addition to being painful, pulp infections potentially threaten the stability of tooth roots and can cause bad breath. In the worst instances, they can spread into the bloodstream and be fatal. Although mild infections may be treatable without a root canal, new research shows that smoking destroys the immune system defenses inside dental pulp. This makes it much likelier a patient will need root canal treatment, and may necessitate removing the tooth altogether. We hope that smokers will not ignore toothaches, since they will only get worse without intervention. We also hope that smokers will be motivated to quit by knowing there is some evidence that dental pulp’s immune defenses can revive without continued exposure to smoke.