Still smoking cigarettes? The trouble for your health
According to the CDC an estimated 14% of Americans still smoke cigarettes. Increasing awareness about the dangers surrounding cigarette smoking has led to a gradual decrease in usage. That said, with still such a high number of people smoking, there is much awareness work to be done.
You may know that smoking can take a toll on the health of your lungs. However, if you still smoke, you should know about the impact that this habit can have on your oral health. It’s not just needing to be aware of the toll that smoking can take on your breath or how it can stain your teeth. The trouble can expand well beyond these concerns.
Cigarette smoking can impact both the health and appearance of your teeth.
Stains that are hard to remove
Are your teeth no longer pearly white? Smoking can stain your teeth quite badly. While stain removal procedures and treatments can help to reverse some of the staining damage, it can prove difficult. This is particularly true if you’ve been smoking for several years.
Many of the stains can potentially be removed with treatments offered by your dentist. Other stains may only be addressed with the use of dental veneers to disguise them.
Bad breath that not even gum can help
Do you struggle with bad breath? If you’re a smoker, it could just be that your smoking habits are to blame for your unfriendly breath. Beyond the stale scent of cigarette smoke that lingers between cigarettes, smoking leaves behind chemical compounds. These chemical compounds can lead to bad breath.
Another concern is that smoking can lead to dry mouth. With decreased saliva production, the chemicals from cigarettes and bacteria in the mouth will flourish. Saliva serves an important role in rinsing your mouth clear of bacteria and those unwanted chemicals. Reduced saliva means increased bacteria.
Brushing your teeth and tongue several times a day can help, certainly. As can drinking water, which will help to increase saliva and help to rinse your mouth of unwanted chemicals and bacteria.
Decrease in smell and taste senses
Do you take time to stop and smell the roses? There’s nothing quite like it! For smokers, this might not be as much of an enjoyable experience. Did you know that smoking can damage your sense of smell? Along with this can come damage to your sense of taste. Not only does a decreased ability to smell and taste impact your quality of life, but it can also be potentially dangerous. If you have a dulled sense of smell and taste you’ll struggle to detect the smell of a fire, a gas leak or perhaps soiled food.
Once you stop smoking it’s quite possible that you’ll restore your sense of smell and taste over time.
A weakened immune system
Smoking constricts blood vessels throughout the body. It also takes a toll on the immune system. This can lead to longer recovery times from illnesses and surgical procedures that include oral surgeries. It can prove more of a challenge for dental patients to fight against oral diseases. Patients who are interested in getting dental implants are often cautioned against continuing to smoke. Doing so can lead to an increased risk of implant failure.
Gum disease and gum recession
According to the CDC, smokers are twice as likely to have gum disease. Even with a good oral health routine and healthy dental habits, your gums are at risk. The reasons are two-fold. Not only does a drier mouth often mean more bacteria and inflammation. But when combined with a weakened immune system, your gums may not be able to cope well. Gingivitis may go untreated. Gum disease may become a concern. This may lead to abscesses and other serious medical concerns.
It is also important to mention that smokers are also at an increased risk for developing ulcers and mouth sores.
Smokers with gum disease are at a higher risk of receding gums. This can change the way your teeth and smile look. But it can also result in problems with the roots of each tooth. Gum disease can ultimately result in the loss of teeth.
Tooth decay and more
Smoking puts you at an increased risk for cavities, serious tooth decay, the need for root canal therapy, and tooth loss. All of the things that smoking contributes towards, including dry mouth and increased bacteria, can support an unhealthy mouth. Increased bacteria can lead to increased plaque and tartar. As mentioned, this can result in cavities, decay, and the loss of teeth.
Brushing, flossing and an alcohol-free mouthwash can certainly help reduce your risks. Smoking cessation is the better way to reduce these risks.
Increased oral cancer risks
Smoking cigarettes, cigars, and using other tobacco products can expose you to high levels of harmful chemicals. These chemicals can take a toll on the healthy cells inside of your mouth and your throat. You could be faced with a range of oral cancer risks, including throat cancer.
Next steps to consider
With your routine dental visits and checkups, you’ll be able to stay on top of any issues as soon as they are noticed. Your dental hygienist will notice any concerns during your cleaning. The sooner you address concerns, the better the prognosis for your teeth and gums.
Quitting smoking is the best thing that you could do for the health of your body and teeth. Speak with your primary care physician about your options. There are several options that might work well for you. Including patches, gums, and medications.
If you’re a smoker it’s important to note that it’s not a matter of if smoking will impact your oral wellness. It’s a matter of when. Your team of dental professionals can work with you to develop a treatment plan for any concerns you have. That said, it’s important that you do your part by embarking on a journey to quit. Smoking can be one of the most difficult habits to quit. This is why it’s important to have the support of your doctor and your family and friends. As for the health of your teeth and gums, your favorite team of dental professionals will be there to restore them to good health.