The harmful impacts of smoking on the lungs and oral health are well-known. But do you know that smoking and tobacco can impact salivation and reduce saliva produced in the mouth? To understand this issue better, we talked to Dr Kishkindha, BDS, based in Ludhiana, Punjab.
Why Saliva Is Important?
To make sense, one should know the importance of saliva in the mouth. Saliva not only helps to chew food and moisten the mouth but also helps wash away germs and prevents bad breath, tooth enamel and tooth decay, as well as gum disease. Its enzymes help to break down the food and aid in proper digestion. Considering the importance of saliva, we must know what its lack could do to us.
Impact Of Smoking On Saliva
Tobacco products like cigarettes have certain ingredients like nicotine that are not good for saliva and salivary glands. According to Dr Kishkindha, “These products act on the salivary glands and block the ducts due to which the saliva flow diminishes in the mouth. This means that the salivary glands are producing saliva, but it is not able to pass through the chambers to reach and spread in the mouth.”
What Happens When There Is No Saliva In Mouth?
“Due to the inability of saliva to pass through the salivary ducts, there can be severe pain in the salivary glands, and surgery may be necessary in severe cases. If this condition is left untreated, it could lead to neoplasms or tumours.”
She said, “The primary reason that some diseases impact the oral cavity is the decline in saliva production in the mouth. This is because saliva acts as the first defence mechanism that guards against bacteria and ensures that caries, disease, or disorder stays away from the teeth.”
“The ability of the oral cavity to fight microorganisms is compromised in case of reduced or no saliva. Thus, the bacteria will have a chance to penetrate more into the oral cavity leading to cavities, gum disease, and dry mouth. In some cases, the dry mouth condition can also affect the pallet, pharynx, throat, and in extreme cases, the gastrointestinal tract,” added Dr Kishkindha.
Due to reduced salivary flow in the mouth and oral cavity, there can be lesions on the tongue, buccal cavity, and even the lips. The low saliva flow can also lead to burning mouth disease and the ingrowth of viral, bacterial and fungal infections.
“Tobacco and its ingredients can cause teeth stains that can be very difficult to remove. In cases of chronic smoking, a person could even develop intrinsic stains as well. This is because dentin, the layer of teeth after the enamel, tends to camouflage whatever colour it takes, but this only happens in chronic conditions.”
The most important thing is to stop smoking and using tobacco products at the earliest. This will not only stop further damage to your oral cavity but will prevent other health conditions as well. And if your oral cavity has started showing signs of problems, then you must visit your dentist at the earliest.
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