The single worst habit for your mouth is smoking. Regardless of form (cigarette, cigar, or loose pipe tobacco), putting the 600 ingredients that create more than 4,000 chemicals into your body via the mouth can guarantee some oral problems. The last two decades of anti-smoking campaigns have made us very aware of a few of them such as cancer and bad breathe, but there are others you might not be aware of. Even the simpler problems can set you up for far more expensive and fatal ones. Let’s look at the ten most concerning issues.
Aesthetic Changes Caused by Smoking
Smoking directly affects the surfaces of your oral cavity. The smoke discolors the enamel of your teeth by encouraging plaque and tarter build-up on the teeth. Despite ones best efforts with daily cleaning habits, smoking will win the battle for white teeth. Additionally, the chemicals in most tobacco products cause inflammation in all the soft tissues of the mouth. This can lead to gingivitis and swelling in the salivary glands of the mouth’s roof. Lastly, the infiltration of chemicals and smoke in one’s soft oral tissues and esophagus will alter the smell of your breathe for the worst. Again, oral maintenance can’t withstand bad breath from an excessive smoking habit. While these issues may not be enough to make someone quit smoking, they can break down a person’s confidence and have a domino effect on career success and other areas of one’s life.
How Smoking Interferes with Dental Procedures
Smoking acts like a mild infection in terms of your body’s immune system response, and the constant invasion of tobacco and the plaque growth it encourages. Because of this, we often see a longer healing process for procedures such as tooth extractions, periodontal treatments, and oral surgery.
Smoking is one of several risk factors in a dental implant procedure. Studies have found that implant failure rate jumps from 6.5% in a non-smoker to right at 20% in a regular smoker. This failure rate is due to the lack of jaw bone quality in someone that has been using cigarettes for a long time.
Major Oral Health Risks Associated with Smoking
While the things we’ve discussed so far are important, the primary reasons we discourage tobacco use in our Arlington office are far more serious. Smokers have an increased risk for oral cancer. It’s disconcerting how many patients we discuss this with who wave cancer off. It’s as though they’ve been desensitized to the fact that smokers are six times more likely to get lip, mouth, tongue, or throat cancer. 90% of these types of cancer patients are smokers. It’s impossible to reject the connection here.
Additionally, smokers have an increased risk of developing gum disease (a top cause of tooth loss), jaw bone loss, and a membrane disorder called leukoplakia in which white patches form all over the inside of the mouth. Leukoplakia often pairs up with cancerous cells, so if you notice any changes in your mouth, it’s vital that you contact a dentist or doctor right away.
Best Way to Avoid Risks
As mentioned above, even with regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings it’s highly unlikely that smokers can avoid all of the negative oral consequences. Stopping the habit before it comes to the worse outcomes is ideal.
We often treat smokers and can recommend programs to help you quit. Not only do we want what’s best for your oral health, but also you as a person. Feel free to contact our Arlington office to schedule a consultation and get started on a smoke-free life path.