Most people know about the dangers that smoking can bring such as cancers in the lung and throat. Yet there is little understanding of how smoking tobacco and other tobacco products can affect your oral health. These range from issues that harm your appearance to the more serious health problems that put your life at risk. Little surprise then that it’s not only your health care provider but also your dentist who will want to see you quit smoking.
What Effects Will Smoking Have On My Oral Health?
One obvious effect that tobacco products cause is that they can easily stain your teeth. Tobacco products are full of nicotine and tar and these are what make the teeth turn yellow. If you have been heavily smoking for many years, you may even begin to notice that your teeth are turning brown.
Particles from smoke attach to the teeth and other soft tissue inside the mouth. These particles encourage the growth of bacteria. As the bacteria multiply, they will begin to produce a smell the same as tobacco smoke causing bad breath.
Tobacco use is heavily linked to the development of periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease. In fact, smokers and those that use smokeless tobacco are two times more likely to get gum disease than those that don’t. The American Academy of Periodontology found that smoking was the most significant risk factor in the development and progression of gum disease. This is because smokers are more likely to produce plaque which leads to bacterial infection in the gum line. Smoking also hinders the treatment of gum disease. Smokers have reduced levels of oxygen in their bloodstream so the healing process of their infected gum tissue is hampered.
Advanced periodontal disease leads to tooth loss. The infection can eat away the part of the jawbone that anchors your teeth. As the support weakens, your teeth become loose and eventually fall out. Gum disease has also been linked to complications in pregnancy and some other serious health conditions including, strokes, heart attacks, osteoporosis, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
How Smoking is Linked With Cancer
Many are aware that smoking and smokeless tobacco can cause cancers in the lung and throat, but many do not know that it’s one of the principal causes of oral cancer. At least 75% of cancers discovered within the mouth, tongue, throat, and lips are found in tobacco users. On average, thousands of people die from oral cancer brought on by smoking each year.
Your Dentist Can Help
Smokers should visit their dentist regularly to check on their oral health. You will also need to visit the hygienist more regularly as teeth become stained more easily and plaque builds up faster. During your visit to your dentist, they’ll check to see that your teeth and gums are healthy. They look out for any spots, lesions, or any other irregularities inside the mouth tissue. In some cases, they may detect something that requires a referral for a biopsy. A biopsy is when a small tissue sample will be extracted and evaluated to see if it’s cancerous.