Most of us are aware that smoking is harmful to our overall health. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), tobacco use is one of the leading causes of preventable illness in the United States, and smoking accounts for approximately 20 percent of deaths. But did you realize that smoking can cause various dental problems too? Smoking can lead to bad breath, tooth discoloration, gum disease and oral cancer, among other concerning issues. Here is what you need to know about the dental risks associated with smoking.
HOW DOES SMOKING AFFECT YOUR ORAL HEALTH?
There are many dental risks associated with smoking and its effects on your mouth and teeth. Some of these risks may even surprise you.
- Bad breath: After being inhaled into the lungs, cigarette smoke is exhaled through the nose and mouth. But even after being exhaled, the smoke chemicals and residue remain in your mouth and airways, which can lead to bad breath. If you would like to learn more about bad breath, check out our blog, What Are the Causes of Bad Breath?
- Tooth discoloration: Tar and nicotine from cigarette smoke can stain your teeth, causing them to turn yellow. Smoking can even discolor your tongue. Keep in mind that these stains cannot be cleaned off at home and must be professionally removed at your dentist’s office.
- Increased risk of developing gum disease: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking plays a substantial factor in gum disease in the United States. Smoking weakens your immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight off infections — that includes the damage done from plaque. If you would like to learn more about gum disease, check out our blog, Gum Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention.
- Increased risk of developing oral cancer: Smoking increases your risk of developing oral cancer, which is a disease that progresses rapidly. If oral cancer is not diagnosed and treated early, it can be deadly; this is one reason why regular dental visits are so imperative.
Other dental problems related to smoking you should be aware of include:
- Inflamed salivary gland openings
- Mouth sores and ulcers
- Gum recession
- Tooth decay
- Loss of teeth
- Loss of bone within the jaw
- Risk of leukoplakia
- Slow healing after a tooth extraction, periodontal treatment or oral surgery
- A lower success rate of dental implant procedures
ARE SMOKELESS TOBACCO PRODUCTS SAFER TO USE?
No, smokeless tobacco products are not safer to use. There is more nicotine found in chewing tobacco and snuff than in cigarettes. According to WebMD, smokeless tobacco products contain at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals, which increase the risk of oral cancer and throat and esophagus cancer.
Smokeless tobacco products can also irritate your gum tissue and cause it to recede, exposing the roots of your teeth. Exposed roots can cause sensitivity and increase the risk of tooth decay. The sugars found in many smokeless tobacco products can also increase the risk of tooth decay.
Finally, smokeless tobacco products often contain sand and grit. This sand and grit can wear down teeth over time.
HOW CAN YOU STOP SMOKING?
The nicotine found in cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products is highly addictive. Thus, it is often challenging to quit using these substances. But remember, choosing to quit smoking is beneficial to improving your long-term health, including your oral health.
If you want to stop smoking, check out Tips from Former Smokers from the CDC to learn about the adverse side effects of tobacco use and tips on how you can quit smoking for good. Furthermore, you should speak with your dental team and doctor; they can help you create a plan to quit smoking that works for you. And with hard work and persistence, you can overcome powerful tobacco cravings and make the transition into a healthier lifestyle.
KNOW WHEN TO VISIT YOUR DENTIST | THE LANDING DENTAL SPA
Because of the many dental risks associated with smoking, regular dentist visits are a necessity. Preventive dentistry aids in the avoidance of cavities, gum disease, enamel wear, gingivitis and periodontitis. During a dental visit, your dentist will also look for any early signs of oral cancer. We recommend that all individuals schedule regular check-ups with their dentist, typically every six to 12 months, but smokers may need to visit the dentist more frequently.
Our dentists at The Landing Dental Spa care about your overall health and want you to have a healthy smile for years to come. If you have any questions about smoking, give us a call at 304-594-2200 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!