Tobacco can affect our oral health in many ways, and it is an issue that should not be ignored, especially when it is teenagers who are planning to pick up smoking. When people think of smoking, they may think that it mainly causes diseases. However, few people consider the full spectrum of damage tobacco can have on their oral health. What’s more, the potential oral health problems brought on by tobacco use do not stop at their mouth. Infections caused by smoking can have negative, long-lasting effects on the entire body.

Why do teens smoke?

There a number of factors that influence teens to smoke and these factors include the urge to show defiance or independence, having parents or guardians who smoke, tobacco advertisements in pop culture, and the belief that everyone who is “cool” is smoking.

Teens in both middle and high school will experience an acute form of peer pressure. During this age, they are trying desperately to be cool, well-liked and fit in with groups of friends. Tobacco use is one of the many choice teenagers will make during these formative years.

It is pertinent that they receive all the help they need to navigate peer pressure early on in their teenage years. How they respond to peer pressure will determine if they use tobacco just to fit into the social groups.

Smoking and oral health

Smoking greatly affects mouth tissues, jawbone, gums and teeth. As teenagers are still considered young, smoking can potentially ruin their oral health in much more detrimental ways. Here are some of the ill effects of smoking:

• Tooth decay: Smoking can increase the amount of dental plague that resides in their mouth. When plague multiplies, it gets harder to remove them. This then leads to tooth decay and dental tartar.

• Bad breath: Also known as halitosis, smoking can give teens a dry mouth due to nicotine and tar settling in the oral cavity, and a condition called smoker’s breath.

• Tooth stains: Smoking causes tooth discoloration and stains. While these stains can be removed with the help of veneers and teeth whitening procedures, it is at the smoker’s expense.

• Gum disease: Tobacco will interfere with the function of gum tissue cells. The damage that they cause will separate the gums from the bone and leave them open to infection. It is unfortunate that some teens get advanced periodontal disease which requires them to seek constant gum disease treatment.

Prevent teen smoking

If you are worried about your child smoking during their teenage years, here are a few preventative tips to keep in mind:

• Educate them and ensure that they are aware of the financial expenses that come with smoking

• Help them navigate peer pressure and teach them how to combat it

• Explain that smoking is addictive and be honest when you tell about the health consequences that come with it

• As parents and guardians, you will have to practice what you preach, which means you should not smoke too

If you notice that your child or teen’s oral health is deteriorating, do not hesitate to consult a reliable dentist. Dental diseases, such as tooth decay, have to be diagnosed and treated in their earliest stages to ensure a full recovery without side effects.