It’s no secret that tobacco use negatively impacts your oral health. Regardless of how you choose to consume tobacco products –– cigarettes, cigars, or chewing tobacco –– you are doing damage to your oral and overall health. Yes, tobacco and oral health are connected.
Unfortunately, smoking and tobacco use are hard habits to break. It’s common for many smokers to stop and start smoking repeatedly over the course of years. And, the longer you smoke, the more damage is done to your health.
That being said, it is possible to stop and even reverse some of the damage done by tobacco use. It’s never too late to stop smoking, and by understanding how tobacco affects your oral health, we hope to encourage tobacco users to break the habit to protect their overall and oral health.
Tobacco use is widely associated with several medical issues, including lung cancer, oral cancer, and gum disease, just to name a few. Read on to learn how smoking damages your dental health, and discover how you can turn back the clock to reverse the damage to your mouth.
Accelerated Tooth Decay
Smoking causes plaque and tartar to build up on your teeth, which can lead to large cavities around the gum line. Cavities invite infection and weaken the teeth. In addition to being painful, weakened teeth are more susceptible to breaks and require extensive –– and expensive –– repair.
It’s common knowledge that smoking and tobacco use can change your pearly whites to an unsightly shade of yellow or even brown. The amount you smoke will impact the extent of your tooth discoloration, and you’ll notice discoloration happens much faster the longer you continue tobacco use.
Periodontal disease –– also known as gum disease –– starts as a bacterial infection in your mouth that eventually affects your gums. The most common symptoms include bleeding gums, a sore mouth, and gums that are easily irritated. Catching periodontal disease early is key. If you see a dentist during the early stages of disease, it’s possible for swift treatment to reverse the damage.
On the other hand, if periodontal disease isn’t treated quickly, the infection can eventually spread to the tissue and bone. The bone could be damaged as a result. In severe cases, bone grafts and restorative surgeries are required.
Tobacco use greatly increases your risk of cancer, especially oral cancer. In fact, according to Cancer Treatment Centers of American, about 80% of oral cancer patients use tobacco. The chemicals in tobacco products can cause cancer, and then prohibit your body from fighting it.
It’s important for tobacco users to be aware of the signs of oral cancer. Contact your general dentist if you experience any oral cancer symptoms, including:
- Lumps or bumpy patches of skin inside the mouth
- Numbness or pain in the lips or mouth
- Sores that won’t heal or ongoing tenderness or burning
- Color changes occurring on the soft tissues of the mouth
- Trouble swallowing, chewing, or moving the tongue or jaw
The best way to protect your oral and overall health is to stop tobacco use. By quitting smoking, risks for cancer, heart disease, and the dental conditions we mentioned above will drastically be reduced. If you’re ready to break free from tobacco, contact your primary care physician for help.
Keeping up with daily dental hygiene is important, too. Brush your teeth twice daily, and practice good flossing habits. Visit your general dentist every six months for regular cleanings and exams to stay on top of any potential dental conditions.
Here at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado, it’s important to us that our patients are well-educated and aware of the signs and symptoms of trouble. Contact us today to schedule an evaluation and learn how we can help restore your smile!