The health risks of smoking have been well documented. And yet, all of the literature and scientific studies still do not seem to be enough to encourage some smokers to kick the habit. Although it is true that smoking ravages the inside of the body, after a while, the destruction begins to show on the outside. And the outcome is not very pretty. Most smokers face a future reality of ageing skin, yellow teeth (that eventually can turn brown) and fingernails that look as if they have been soaked in a vat of putrid yellow dye.
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According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, tar deposits are brown discolourations that develop on the teeth as a result of smoking. Tar contains numerous toxic chemicals, 4,000 to be exact, that leave a sticky residue on the surface of the teeth on contact, just as they do on the end of a cigarette as it is being smoked. It is also important to note that the yellowing of the teeth caused by tar is not diminished by switching to a low-tar cigarette. In fact, the effects are quite the same.
The chemicals in cigarettes form a thick, extra-hard plaque that coats the teeth and turns them varying shades of yellow. Calculus contains bacteria that destroy gum tissue, resulting in gum disease. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, the yellow calculus is too hard to be removed with an ordinary toothbrush. It must be removed professionally by a dentist or the calculus can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, resulting in deep pockets of infection and tooth loss.
Yellow fingernails can be a dead giveaway that a person is a longtime smoker, especially if the yellowing is limited to just a few fingernails on one hand. Fungus Facts.com explains that smoking can cause oxygen deprivation that results in the yellowing of the fingernails. Even more common is the "yellow finger syndrome" that develops on the skin of the fingers that hold the cigarette. The yellowish hue can be attributed to the tar and nicotine contained in the cigarette and their characteristic staining.
Nail fungus consists of tiny organisms known as Tinea unguium that invade and infect the nails of the fingers and toes. A fungal infection of the nails can cause them to thicken and turn yellow, and if left untreated, the fungus can spread well beyond the nails, eventually invading the internal organs and nervous system. Smokers run a higher risk of acquiring nail fungus disorders than people who do not smoke. The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology reveals that the risks of a fungal infection increase with each pack of cigarette smoked.
Taking out the Yellow
Some but not all of the damage that cigarette smoking causes can be reversed. In fact, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry announced that teeth-whitening procedures have increased and many of the candidates are smokers who have kicked the habit. Unfortunately, the whitening can only remove the yellow staining on the teeth. If dental implants and bonding have been stained by smoking, they may have to be replaced in order to match the newly whitened teeth. Yellow staining on the nails and fingers can be temporarily removed with a lemon juice soak, but the best way to permanently put an end to yellowing nails is to quit smoking.
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