You obviously know that smoking is bad for your health. Lung cancer is the first thing that comes to mind. Maybe also Emphysema, a disease of the lungs characterized by shortness of breath. But did you know that the damage caused by smoking starts right from your mouth? Here is how smoking wreaks havoc in your mouth – all the more reasons to quit smoking now.
Your gums hate it!
Studies have found that smokers are several times more likely to get gum disease than non-smokers. Periodontal (gum) disease starts when plaque forms in the pockets around your teeth. The plaque attracts bacteria, which causes infection in the gums. Chronic infection leads to gums pulling away from your teeth. Your body’s reaction to the build-up of bacteria lead to damage of the soft tissue and bones that anchor your teeth to the jawbones. When this structure is destroyed, your teeth may come loose and fall off.
Researchers are still trying to figure out exactly what in tobacco products cause this damage but it seems like smoking interferes with the basic functions of your gums. It also affects your body’s natural healing processes and is believed to affect the flow of blood to the gums, slowing down the healing process and making the treatment less predictable and unfavorable. So, even when you get the treatment for gum disease, you have a far less chance of showing improvement than a nonsmoker would.
Smoking destroys your smile
The nicotine and tar in the cigarettes can stain your teeth and make them yellow in a very short time. And if you keep smoking, your teeth may even become brown. Although teeth whitening and veneers can help with it, teeth staining might still occur again if you don’t quit.
Smoking makes your breath stink
Even when you’re not smoking, people might want to stay away because of your “smoker’s breath”, bad breath caused by dryness in the mouth. Smoking reduces the production of saliva in the mouth, which leads to the build-up of bacteria. This bacteria makes your breath stink.
Smoking can lead to oral cancer!
If lung cancer isn’t scary enough, smoking is found to be linked to oral cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that 90% of people with mouth cancer or some other types of throat cancer have used tobacco. The risk of developing oral cancer increases when you chew or smoke tobacco more often. If a person receives cancer treatment, he is still at a high risk of developing second cancers if he doesn’t quit smoking.
Smoking damages your beautiful implants, crowns, and bridges
Implants, crowns, and bridges, used for replacing the lost teeth in smokers, can cost a fortune. But all that money you spend might be for nothing as studies show that all dental procedures are likely to fail if the person doesn’t quit smoking. Smoking slows the healing process – the bone might not heal and so implants and crowns are more likely to lose their beautiful appearance after a short time as tobacco damages the gum tissue, cause the gums to pull away and damage the bone.
It doesn’t end there!
Smoking not only causes dental problems but it is also found that the more you smoke, the worse it gets. Studies have found a direct correlation with the number of cigarettes smoked and the risk of advanced periodontal disease. Those who smoked more than one and a half pack a day were three times more likely to suffer from advanced periodontal disease than those who smoked less than half a pack a day.
It doesn’t matter which tobacco product you use
If you’re considering choosing chewing tobacco over your cigarettes, here is the bad news: it doesn’t matter what product you use. As long as it’s tobacco, it’s going to be harmful and will have the same effects on your oral health.
Even good oral hygiene doesn’t help!
Smokers tend to be more careless with their mouth and oral hygiene. But even if you adopt good habits and clean your mouth regularly, it won’t greatly improve your chances of preventing oral problems. Tobacco products contain chemicals that work like a sandpaper against your teeth and wear the enamel away. Once the enamel is damaged, it doesn’t grow back. But even more important is the fact that once cancer causing agents enter your system, they can’t be washed away.
The good news is…
Though smoking wreaks havoc in your mouth and body, the damage also reverses quickly if you quit smoking. If you quit smoking now, you can improve greatly by receiving dental treatment.
Yes, it’s highly addictive and we know it. You can’t keep away from those cigarette packs but if you care about your health, you’ll take the steps to improve it. Herbal remedies, support groups, nicotine gum, and therapy are all available for help.
Start by scheduling an appointment with your dentist to get an oral exam. Your dentist can help you with the necessary resources needed to quit smoking.