Smoking poses a wide range of risks, including many forms of cancer, lung disease, and heart disease. However, one place that is generally overlooked when it comes to the consequences of smoking concerns dental health.
A Wide Range of Dental Issues
Smoking introduces a variety of potential problems to overall dental health. At Mt. Tabor Dental, we have seen many short-term and long-term problems associated with smoking.
Tooth Staining – The nicotine, tar and other chemicals used in cigarettes cause staining of the teeth. Ranging from yellow to black, this discoloration is impossible to remove through regular brushing.
Halitosis – Also known as bad breath, this consequence of smoking can turn people away. While smokers don’t notice the smell, those around you do!
Dry Mouth and Tooth Decay – Saliva helps clean teeth as it washes away food particles and bacteria that form plaque on the surfaces of teeth. Smoking causes dry mouth, leading to increased production of plaque which leads to more cavities and bad breath.
Dental Work – A more serious long-term consequence of smoking involves decreased healing time from procedures such as tooth replacement through dental implants. Smoking can also decrease success rates for these kinds of procedures.
While these conditions are serious, a more long-term problem involves gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Smokers have a much higher rate of periodontal disease and oral cancer.
Periodontal Disease – also known as gum disease – begins with simple plaque that forms along your gumline and on the surfaces of your teeth. Bacteria grow in this plaque, destroying tissue and eventually the bone that holds your teeth in place, leading to tooth loss. Bleeding gums during brushing or flossing is an early indication of periodontal disease.
Smoking can increase the severity of periodontal disease and encourage it to progress more quickly than in nonsmokers, even when it has been treated. Continued smoking hinders treatment, interfering with our bodies’ natural abilities to fight disease.
Oral Cancer Screenings
Cigarettes and other tobacco products have over 60 known carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals). It’s not surprising that 75% of all oral cancer is caused by these tobacco products. Cigarette and other tobacco smoke from cigars or pipes can lead to cancer anywhere in the mouth or the throat. Other cancers caused by smoking include that of the larynx, lungs, kidney, bladder, and esophagus. Around 90% of those diagnosed with some kind of mouth or throat cancer have used tobacco.
The good news is that quitting the smoking habit now will help your dental health for years to come. This, along with regular dental visits and treatment for your specific needs at Mt. Tabor Dental, will help you keep your teeth and gums healthy.
If you are interested in quitting smoking, Dr. Beck and his staff at South Waterfront Dental will be more than happy to assist you. You can also visit www.smokefree.gov for more information about smoking cessation.