The negative impact of smoking on the body is now well-known. However, if you are like most people, you only consider the negative impact it has on the lungs or throat and the way it affects your overall health. What isn’t as well-known or considered is the negative impact smoking has on your teeth and mouth. Read below to learn more about how your oral health is impacted by this unhealthy habit:
Negative Effects of Smoking on The Teeth And Mouth
The American Dental Association states that tobacco use, like smoking cigarettes, often causes a diminished sense of taste, bad breath and stained teeth. Of course, the negative impact of smoking doesn’t stop there. A habitual use of tobacco products can eventually lead to a weakened immune system and can even alter your ability to properly heal from a surgery. Consequently, smoking can increase your risk of periodontal disease or gum disease, which causes inflammation around the teeth. Eventually, this disease will negatively impact the tooth’s supporting structure, ultimately resulting in loose teeth. In extreme cases, smoking can even lead to mouth cancer.
What Smoking Can Do To Your Oral Health
There are many negative effects of smoking relating to your overall oral health, some of which are touched on above. The following is a more comprehensive list, though, of what you can expect to happen to your oral health is you continue smoking:
- Tooth discoloration or yellow teeth.
- Bad breath, leading to an odor.
- Build up of tartar and plaque on the teeth, leading to a greater risk of cavities.
- Inflammation in the salivary glands, which are located on the roof of the mouth.
- Increased risk to develop leukoplakia, which consists of white patches within the mouth.
- Increased risk of bone loss within the jaw area.
- A delay in the healing process after oral surgery, periodontal treatment or tooth extraction, which can lead to pain.
- Increased risk of gum disease and eventual tooth loss.
- Lower rate of success after a dental implant procedure.
- Increased risk of oral cancer.
How Smoking Increases Risk of Gum Disease
Smoking can eventually negatively affect the soft tissue and attachment bones of the mouth. In addition, it has believed that smoking interferes with how the gum tissue cells typically function. It also impacts the blood flow into the gums. These factors make a person more susceptible to infections, like periodontal disease, and impact a person’s wound healing ability. This happens, in part, because the act of smoking, leads to a reduction of oxygen within the blood stream. Smoking also increases your risk for developing bacterial plaque, which can eventually lead to gum disease as well. The seriousness of gum disease should not be discounted. After all, gum disease remains the most common cause of tooth loss.
What About Smoking & Cancer?
The big “C” word is a horrifying diagnosis no one wants to get. Unfortunately, if you are a smoker, you are putting yourself at a greater risk for throat and lung cancer. However, you are also significantly increasing your risk of mouth cancer. In fact, there are thousands of people who lose their lives due to mouth cancer each year, which was primarily caused by smoking. Even more telling is the fact that according to the American Cancer Society, some 90% of people who have cancer of the tongue, lips, mouth, or throat also happen to use tobacco in some form. Smokers are around six times more likely to develop these cancers when compared with nonsmokers. Suffice it to say, smoking is bad for you and increases your risk for all sorts of problematic and even life-threatening conditions.
Can Anything Be Done to Decrease The Oral Risks Associated With Smoking?
Ideally, you want to stop smoking. This alone is the main way to protect your oral health. However, if you don’t want to stop smoking or feel as if you can’t, you can still take steps to protect your teeth. For example, it’s important to ask your dentist about products they recommend for treating your stained teeth, such as mouthwashes, and even toothpaste. There are products on the market that work to clean the teeth more thoroughly, that are a bit more abrasive in nature than traditional toothpaste. However, it’s a good idea to ask your dentist about these products and how they should be used, to ensure you don’t damage your teeth or gums.
In addition, many dentists will recommend additional cleanings and more thorough mouth examinations for patients who smoke. In the cases of smokers, it can be a wise move for them to have more than the typically recommended twice yearly cleanings. Dentists also should be made aware of your smoking habit as they will take extra time to examine your tongue, cheeks and throat for any signs of the oral/gum conditions that typically go along with smoking.
Why It’s Important to Kick The Habit
Although your dental professional can recommend products for you to use and even provide additional cleanings and examinations, this alone cannot outweigh the risk associated with smoking. This means you need to quit. Thankfully, even if you have spent years smoking, you can counteract the negative effects within your mouth. Studies have noted that former smokers, eleven years after kicking their smoking habit, have a normal risk of periodontal disease. In other words, you can reverse some effects, eventually, of smoking if you kick the habit now.
What if You Don’t Feel Quitting is Possible?
Even if you can’t quit smoking entirely, some studies seem to indicate that even a reduction in the amount you smoke can help. The magic amount seems to be less than half a pack a day of cigarettes. If you can reduce your smoking habit to under that amount, you significantly lower your risk of developing many of the conditions listed above.
Your Next Step to a Healthier Lifestyle
Now that you know the negative effects smoking has on your oral health, it’s important to make moves towards stopping the habit or at least reducing it eventually. In the meantime, contact us at Eggleston Dental Care. During your initial consultation, we will gladly offer you a dental plan for getting your oral health to its optimal level, regardless of the current condition of your teeth. Call us today to learn more about how to get pain relief and return your smile to its previously beautiful state through the art of dentistry.