Is your smoking pleasure costing you more than you think?
People who smoke may wonder about the health effects of it on their teeth. While it is very obvious that it will stain them and give you bad breath, many of the other effects may be unknown to the smoker. The truth is that if you want to keep healthy teeth then smoking needs to go.
The Effects of Smoking on Oral Health
Smoking creates much more damage to your teeth and gums than you realize. It will also:
- Dull your ability to taste and smell
- Promote gum disease
- Cause oral cancer
- Reduces healing after dental procedures
The U.S. Surgeon General says that scientists have now identified as many as 7,000 different chemicals and compounds in cigarette smoke. Among all those chemicals, there are at least 70 of them that are known to cause cancer. Because of all these chemicals, any amount of smoke is unsafe, and so is exposure to it.
The Surgeon General also mentioned that smoking damages DNA. This can cause cells to reproduce uncontrollably. Although the body normally produces cells to destroy cells that are growing out of control, the cigarette smoke weakens the body’s ability for this system to work efficiently.
Problems That Smoking Can Cause on Health
Smoking of any kind, including pipe and chewing tobacco, will all cause bone loss in the jawbone. The jawbone and other support structures are what keep your teeth in place. The effect is the same across the various types of tobacco use, and they all appear to produce bone loss at the same rate – even if you do not inhale, says the Journal of the American Dental Association.
- Gum Disease
The biggest factor in developing gum disease is smoking. The CDC reveals that smokers have twice the risk of developing it. This is because the smoke weakens your immune system by reducing the oxygen in your blood, enabling the bacteria in your mouth that causes gum disease (periodontitis) to multiply much faster.
- Oral Cancer
Once cancer gets started in your mouth or neck, it often grows fast. This is because of the fact that there are lots of blood vessels in your head and neck. Many times the dentist will check your neck for swollen lymph nodes. This is often the first indication of oral cancer. By the time it is discovered, it is often already in an advanced stage.
It has been discovered that as many as 90 percent of the people who have mouth or throat cancer have used tobacco at some point. When people get oral cancer and continue to smoke, about 37 percent of them are going to develop other forms of cancer in their mouth, larynx, or throat.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
As gum disease gets started, it is called gingivitis. This is usually revealed by bleeding or swollen gums. Cigarette smoke causes there to be less bleeding, according to the National Institutes of Health, so that the situation may actually be worse than it appears.
At this stage, it can often be stopped rather easily simply by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly. It does not go away completely, because the bacteria are always present in your mouth.
The next stage is called periodontitis. This is the destructive stage. The gums develop pockets at the gum line and may start oozing pus. The gums will also recede. As the bacteria continue to multiply in the pockets, they produce acid. This breaks down your gums and structures that hold your teeth in place, as well as the jawbone. At first, this causes the teeth to become loose – then they fall out.
Reducing the Risk for Oral Cancer
If you smoke, then the most important way to reduce your risk of oral cancer is to quit smoking. This is certainly one of the best benefits of quitting smoking. Although smoking less may reduce your risk some, if you want to reduce the risk greatly, then there is no substitute for quitting.
Many programs are available, as well as products, to help you quit. A dentist can recommend a number of ways to quit smoking, as well as help you to find a strategy that will work for you.
Other important steps to reduce your risk for cancer of the mouth and neck include drinking alcohol in moderation – or not at all and eating more fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants in them will lower the risk.
If there has already been damage to your teeth and gums they will likely need to be repaired, too. Besides teeth whitening, your teeth may be able to be restored to give you a great smile again. Missing teeth can be replaced, but you will need to stop smoking so that everything can heal well.
If you need help to stop smoking and need dental help to restore your teeth and gums, ToothHQ team of Board-certified periodontists wish to support you with smoking cessation programs and assist to kick the habit. If you live in the Carrollton, Dallas, Cedar Hill or Grapevine, TX areas, you can call our office today at (214) 731-0123 and ask for a consultation.