It’s no secret that cigarette smoking is a risk factor for various chronic diseases. This includes periodontitis, which damages the soft tissue around teeth; oropharyngeal cancer, more commonly known as throat or tonsil cancer; respiratory diseases; and cardiovascular diseases.
What do these diseases have in common?
They all have roots that can be traced in the mouth, even in the case of cardiovascular issues: people with gum disease carry two to three times the risk of having a heart attack.
Previous studies have already observed changes in the composition of the oral microbiota of cigarette smokers who had periodontitis and heart-related diseases.
To find more potential links between smoking and oral health, a study by Scientific Reports sought to discover the effects of smoking on salivary microbiota, or the naturally-occurring bacteria in the mouth.
From a sample of over 1,600 individuals, 45% of whom were either current or former smokers, researchers found that bacteria like Cryptobacterium, Fretibacterium, and Parvimonas increased along with smoking intensity.
They also found that cigarette consumption negatively affects helpful aerobic bacteria, depriving these bacteria of the oxygen they need.
This is important because it’s primarily aerobic bacteria that provide our body with nitric oxide, which helps regulate blood pressure. A lack of nitric oxide can lead to poor gum and heart health over time.
However, there is hope. Interestingly, the salivary microbiota of former smokers was more similar to never-smokers than current smokers, especially for those who had quit longer than five years.
As more research emerges, more people may be encouraged to either quit smoking or transition to smokeless products to recover healthy mouth bacteria.
Alternatives for a Smokeless Society
Gradually the world is turning into a smokeless society, as evidenced by a sharp decline in cigarette sales. In the case of Philip Morris International, cigarette shipment volume has dropped from 915 billion in 2011 to 622 billion in 2022.
Additionally, in a survey of 6,500 American convenience store retailers, cigarette volume declined sequentially in the first three months of 2023.
As cigarette sales plummet, the global nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) market is projected to grow from $2.92 billion in 2021 to $3.92 billion in 2028. NRTs provide nicotine in significantly smaller doses to aid in a smoking cessation journey.
For those looking to try NRTs in pouch format, LUCY nicotine products are 100% tobacco-free with a variety of flavors and strengths from Mint 12mg for heavy smokers to Mango 4mg for light users and more.
These pouches have never come into contact with any form of tobacco, including dust, stem, or reconstituted sheet, allowing users to avoid the adverse effects associated explicitly with tobacco and cigarette smoke.
Gums or mini lozenges are another form of NRT. Blip’s smoking cessation products are packaged in bright neon boxes with playful slogans that remind you to stay on your quit journey.
Their gum comes in Fruit Freeze or Mint Freeze flavors, while the mini lozenges come in a mint flavor for those who crave the taste of a menthol cigarette but want to avoid one.
Smoking involves the mouth, which means healthy mouth bacteria are one of the first organisms to come into contact with cigarette smoke as it enters the body.
While scientists are still conducting further research on the potential role of oral microbiota in degrading the toxic compounds found in cigarette smoke, nicotine consumers need to mitigate the negative effects of their habit in the meantime.
In our “12 Tips to Stay Healthy With Organic Way” article, we discussed that smoking has health implications not just for yourself, but also for those around you.
With the help of NRTs and a supportive community, smokers may have a chance to bring their mouth bacteria profile closer to before they smoked their first cigarette.