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How Smoking Affects Your Dental Health

There have long since been warnings about the ill effects of smoking on the overall health of individuals who smoke. But the adverse effects of smoking apply to dental health as well. Medical evidence shows that smoke from the device of choice – cigarettes, cigar and pipes – can adversely affect tissue in the mouth and travel down the throat affecting other bodily organs such as the esophagus, lungs and stomach. What this means is that cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing serious health problems from oral diseases to chronic conditions such as lung disease and oral cancer.

In addition to these health problems, sustained tobacco use in any form contributes to severe teeth discoloration and gum disease. Let’s examine in detail what smoking does to your dental health.

Gum Disease

Studies show that those who smoke have a higher risk for gum disease. Periodontal disease develops and progresses more swiftly in smokers than non-smokers. That’s because tobacco is known to reduce blood flow to the gums, which in turn reduces the oxygen and nutrients needed for health gums. The gums become more vulnerable to bacteria and infections.

According information from the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, cigarette, cigar and pipe smokers are far more likely to develop periodontitis than people who had never smoked. Further, if gum disease goes unchecked, treatment becomes less effective in smokers down the road. This translates into a slow healing process once treatments begin. In some cases, the gum disease results in the complete destruction of tissue that supports the teeth, abscesses and loss of teeth.

Signs of gum disease include swollen or bleeding gums, gums pulling away from teeth, loose teeth and tooth loss.

Oral Cancer

Even more server than the many effect to teeth and gums is the risk of developing oral cancer. Data collected by various medical sources convey the seriousness of oral cancers, such as the fact that the death rate from this disease exceeds that of many other cancers. Oral cancers include cancer of the mouth, tongue and tonsils.

According to reports from the American Cancer Society, a significant number of persons that suffer from oral or throat cancers were tobacco users. Smokers and tobacco user develop these cancers at a higher rate than non-smokers. But it doesn’t stop with the throat or mouth. Smokers and tobacco users have a higher risk of developing cancer of the lungs, kidneys, bladder and other organs.

Keeping Up Appearances

Another way smoking affects dental hygiene is the rapid discoloration of teeth. The tar and nicotine from smoking can stain teeth in short order. Many smokers report that teeth become brown or yellow with a few short years of smoking. Although not as serious as gum or oral diseases, discolorations cause an unsightly appearance.

How to Improve Your Oral Health if you are a Smoker

The fact is no amount of tobacco use is good for your oral health. If you are a smoker, it’s highly recommended that you quit smoking altogether. This may be difficult, but once you leave smoking behind, the better chance for lowering your risks of oral health conditions. For example, if you have a gum disease and quite smoking now, down the road your health risk will be significantly less.

It is also important to visit your dental care professional regularly. Oral cancer is a good possibility for smokers. If you get regular checkups, your dentist will be able to pick up on signs and indicators early and prescribe the proper treatment.

In between dental visits, you must keep up with regular brushing and flossing. The chemicals in smoke and tobacco can be damaging to your teeth and gums. Brushing and flossing can curtail problems such as the development of periodontal disease.