There are simply no butts about it when it comes to smoking’s destructive effect on your oral health. Although much attention centers on its dangerous risk for lung damage, your teeth and gums are at risk as well. Your mouth is the first place that comes in contact with harmful nicotine during a smoke.
The primary oral health concern for smokers is gum disease. Smoking and other tobacco products can lead to gum disease by affecting the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth. In essence, when you choose to light up, you are allowing tobacco to disrupt the normal function of your gum tissue cells. This interference makes smokers more vulnerable to infections, such as periodontal disease. Remember that gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, is the early signs of untreated gum disease. Periodontal disease, unlike gingivitis, is not always reversible. Once a tobacco user allows their habit to infiltrate their gums and cause gum disease, there are other health conditions that may come into the equation, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Gum disease is certainly not the only dental problem that smoking can create. Here is a list of other potential oral health complications that might make it worth putting down your cigarette:
- Bad breath
- Tooth discoloration
- Inflammation of the salivary gland openings on the roof of the mouth
- Increased build up of plaque and tartar on the teeth
- Increased loss of bone within the jaw
- Increased risk of leukoplakia, white patches inside the mouth
- Increased risk of developing gum disease, a leading cause of tooth loss
- Delayed healing process following tooth extraction, periodontal treatment, or oral surgery
- Lower success rate of dental implant procedures
- Increased risk of developing oral cancer
Think you’re safe if you opt for smokeless tobacco products instead? Think again. Smokeless tobacco products such as snuff and chewing tobacco contain at least 28 chemicals that have been shown to increase the risk of oral cancer. Did you know that chewing tobacco contains higher levels of nicotine than cigarettes? Smokeless tobacco can irritate your gum tissue. It causing gum to recede and thus exposing your teeth roots which causes sensitivity and decay vulnerability.
We all know that smoking is a difficult habit to break. However, it can be done. It is never to late to stop using tobacco and prevent the havoc it wreaks on your oral health. A dentist, such as Gilreath Family Dentistry, can help patients reverse some of the damage that cigarettes leave behind through professional whitening, advanced gum disease treatment and more.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,