Quitting Smoking: Understanding Mouth Sores And Bleeding Gums

15 June 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Articles

If you are a smoker, then it is quite likely that your regular dentist has informed you that you should quit for oral health reasons. As a smoker, you have a greater chance of developing oral cancer and gingivitis. Also, your sense of taste is dull and you will not heal as quickly after an extraction or another type of oral surgery. Of course, you probably have bad breath and dental stains too. If you decide to quit smoking, then you will probably notice some changes in your mouth pretty quickly. Some of these changes can be alarming, but they are not a bad thing. If you want to know why bleeding and mouth sores may be two issues that you notice, then keep reading and then find out what you can do about it.

The Cause of Mouth Sores and Bleeding

Smoking reduces the amount of blood that flows to the gums and the tissues in the mouth. This occurs for a variety of reasons. The nicotine in the smoke causes the blood vessels to constrict and this stops oxygen and essential nutrients from reaching the tissues. Also, chemicals within the cigarette smoke form a film across the tissues in the mouth and this damages them. This film can be seen as the gums darken over time. Tissues are not able to heal themselves since chemicals continue to form over the tissues. The dying tissues do not utilize the nutrients from the blood, and thus blood flow decreases. Eventually, the gums start to fall away from the teeth as the tissues degrade and you will likely see gum pockets deepening around the edges of the teeth.

When you quit smoking, the chemical film in your mouth no longer builds and it actually starts to clear as you clean your mouth. Nicotine no longer surges through the body, and the blood vessels in the mouth start to heal. Eventually, your immune system starts sending white blood cells to the gums and cheeks. This causes inflammation and the tissue healing begins. You may be surprised to see bleeding gums and open sores as the mouth starts to heal. Bleeding is a sign that blood is coursing through the tissues once again. You will see the blood because the tissues are not fully healed yet. Sores form too, as dead tissues are forced to slouch off and away from the mouth.

What Should You Do About It?

Bleeding Gums

If you notice bleeding gums, then it is imperative that you continue to brush your teeth and floss as you normally would. Bleeding gums mean there are small openings along the surfaces of the tissues. The openings can allow bacteria into the blood stream where the microorganisms can cause more serious tissue infections.

Smoking represses the immune system and quitting allows it to start functioning better. However, your immune system will not be as strong as it should be for some time. This means that infection risks are serious. If you are uncomfortable with the pain coming from your bleeding gums, then think about using a water flosser instead of dental floss. It may also be a good idea to use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth, because this product will help to calm some of the sensations coming from both your teeth and gums.

Mouth Sores

Mouth sores also indicate a potential area of infection if you do not take proper precautions. One of the best things you can do for these sores is to keep them from opening and oozing fluids. This will help to keep bacterial infections at bay. Limit the amount of spicy foods that you eat that may burn the tissues. This means staying away from any item that contains cayenne pepper, hot chilis, hot peppers, black pepper, red pepper flakes or hot sauce. Also, do not eat extremely hot or cold foods.

You also should try to reduce the swelling around the mouth sores by using a salt water rinse one or two times each day. The salt will help to draw moisture out of the inflamed tissues to reduce discomfort. Also, bacteria do not thrive in salty conditions, so the rinse can reduce infection risks too. To make the rinse, mix about one tablespoon of table or sea salt in a small glass of warm water. Take a large sip of the fluid and move it around the mouth for a full minute. Spit out the salt water afterwards.

For more information on combating the effects of smoking on your oral health, consult with a dentist from a clinic such as Schererville Family Dentistry, PC.