Using tobacco in any form is catastrophic for your overall health, and your mouth is not excluded. As hard of a habit as it is to break, quitting smoking is absolutely the most beneficial thing you could do for your oral health. Listed as the main cause of preventable death in the U.S. by the CDC, smoking has an impact on your mouth that extends far beyond cosmetic. The concerns of bad breath and stained teeth seem unimportant next to the two most severe consequences: gum disease and oral cancer.
Classified as a bacterial infection, gum disease is caused by bacteria that lives in the plaque surrounding your teeth. Smoking can be a main contributor for gum disease for a number of reasons. Because smoking decreases saliva production in your mouth, plaque is often able to harden into tartar uninterrupted. Also, using tobacco weakens your body’s immune system, and the response to infection will be impaired. When your mouth is not able to heal as quickly, any treatment will also be much less effective given the slow response time. If you smoke, the likelihood of getting advanced gum disease is increased by three to six times.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 90% of oral cancer patients are smokers, and smoking raises your risk of developing oral cancer by six times. Although staggering, these statistics are not very surprising given that the point of entry for tobacco is the oral cavity. The numerous chemicals contained in tobacco can turn the cells in your mouth cancerous over a period of time, so the amount and duration that you smoke does make a difference. It is never too late to quit, as your risk factor will immediately start to decrease!
If you are a smoker, maintaining your regular dental check-ups is incredibly important. Because visits with your dentist should be every 6 months, these appointments will provide a place for:
- Early detection of cancer
- Plaque removal that could lead to gum disease and tooth loss
- Consistent support for breaking the habit
If you do smoke, any headway you can make in decreasing consumption will make a difference in your oral health, but quitting completely is the goal. Major dental work that requires tissue to grow back quickly, like dental implants, is much less effective if you use any tobacco because of your body’s impaired ability to heal. Talk to us today if you struggle with smoking and are concerned about your oral health. We can help you address the issues you are currently experiencing and provide support in your plan to quit.