Smoker’s bad breath as it is commonly known can be foul smelling by itself because of the tobacco odor which is unpleasant to most people. Smoking can irritate the gum tissue, accumulate foul smelling substances like tar and nicotine coatings on the teeth and contribute to stale odors from the mouth.
Growing Smoker’s Bad Breath
Bad breath originating in the mouth is caused primarily due to conditions which favor the growth of odor causing anaerobic bacteria in the mouth. Some of the ideal breeding conditions for the sulfur producing anaerobic bacteria are a dry mouth. Increased acidity and the presence of high protein for the bacteria to feed on. Smoking and tobacco usage increases all of these bad breath causing conditions. Smoker’s bad breath is an inevitable issue for smokers.
Higher levels of calculus are formed in smokers which cause gum disease and cavities by sticking to the teeth. Calculus hardens into plaque which can be the root cause of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is one of the leading reasons for bad breath.
An overgrowth of papilla or the hairy surface on the posterior portion of the tongue is one of the prime areas from which bad breath originates. The denser the papilla, the more it traps the odor causing bacteria. Heavy smokers have a much thicker growth of papilla compared to non smokers.
A prolonged smoking habit greatly diminishes a person’s ability to detect and distinguish various smells and tastes. Each additional year of tobacco use progressively diminishes the ability to taste and smell. Mostly the ability to detect bitter tastes diminish and not so much the sweet and sour tastes. Quitting smoking has often been known to increase person’s sugar cravings which are probably the cause of weight gain associated with quitting smoking.
Bad Breath and Halitosis
Bad breath in the mouth is caused by the concentration of sulfur compounds in the breath. The strength of the tobacco used is a determining factor in the degree of offensive odor. The tobacco used in pipes and cigars is much more concentrated and therefore causes stronger bad breath.
Smokers are also much more prone to sinusitis and other ENT conditions which cause a post nasal drip. These drips down the back of the throat and is the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive under as they feed on the proteins in the mucous and release odor causing compounds.
Oral candidiasis or thrush is more likely to occur in heavy smokers and alcoholics. Quitting smoking is known to positively affect the mouth conditions in the patients suffering from oral candidiasis.
Chewing tobacco is worse than smoking for bad breath. Tobacco chewing reduces the flow of saliva in the mouth causing the ideal conditions for anaerobic bacteria which thrive under dry conditions devoid of much oxygen. Anaerobic bacteria break down the proteins in the mouth producing waste material called volatile sulfur compounds (VSC’s) which cause the offensive odor. Tobacco chewing also causes the gums to recede from the teeth causing deep pockets where the bacteria multiply; this is basically how periodontal disease develops.
Most the conditions associated with smoking and tobacco usage are preventable by quitting smoking and giving up tobacco usage. A lot of the offensive side effects of smoking are reversible. Apart from bad breath there many high risk conditions like oral infections and mouth cancer associated with any form of tobacco usage. Quitting smoking or tobacco chewing is a great way to take control of your health, breath odor and appearance.