You check your watch after you light up your first cigarette of the day. Your morning routine wouldn’t be the same without it. Those 5-10 minutes help you relax and allows your mind to gently wander. You know smoking is bad for your health and that you should quit, but it’s a very ingrained habit at this point. You’re probably aware of the effects it can have on your skin, heart, and lungs, but did you know smoking can also damage your teeth and gums? Your dentist at Canatella Dental wants you to know the effects smoking can have on your oral health, as well as how they can help you.
1. STAINED TEETH
As you probably know, cigarettes contain nicotine and tar in the tobacco. They both can create a sticky film that clings to your teeth and can make them appear yellow in a very short amount of time. Your tooth enamel is actually porous, and this is what can make the stains so difficult to remove. Over time, smoking can actually make your teeth appear brown.
2. THE EFFECT ON YOUR GUMS AND TEETH
Smoking restricts the blood vessels throughout your body and makes it more difficult for oxygenated blood to reach your gums. This can weaken their resistance to bacterial plaque, which is the primary cause of gum disease. Smoking has also been shown to make gum disease advance more quickly. A study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that 55% of smokers were suffering from advanced gum disease, or periodontitis. This is 4 times the rate of gum disease compared to people who have never smoked. Gum disease can have a drastic effect on your oral health, and is the leading cause of tooth loss in patients 35 and older. Also, the bacteria associated with gum disease has the ability to travel throughout your entire body and has been linked to serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and dementia.
Smoking also causes people to have more dental plaque because it dries the mouth out, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply. This plaque is what can lead to tooth decay and eventually tooth loss.
3. ORAL CANCER
Most people are aware that smoking can cause lung cancer, but it can also significantly increase your risk for oral cancer. In fact, a study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco found that more than 8 out of 10 oral cancer patients were smokers.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
If you are a smoker and want to maintain your oral health, there are a few key things you can do. You must be extra diligent to brush and floss your teeth multiple times a day to clean off the plaque that is accumulating on your teeth. You must also be sure to routinely visit your family dentist at least twice a year. This will allow one of our highly trained hygienist to deeply clean your teeth, then Dr. Canatella or Dr. Neumeyer will examine your teeth and gums to make sure there are no underlying issues.
These regular check-ups are also when you can get an oral cancer screening. This is especially important for smokers. Early detection of oral cancer dramatically increases the rate of survival. Patients who have their oral cancer diagnosed while it is in stage I or stage II have an 80%-90% survival rate, while the rate drops to as low as 20% for patients who are diagnosed at stage IV.
Want to Know More?
Of course, the best step you could take to maintain your overall health is to limit or quit smoking, but if that isn’t an option, regular visits to your dentist are an effective measure you can take. If you would like to know more about how smoking affects your oral health or how we can help you take care of your teeth, please call us today.