How Smoking Negatively Affects Oral Health
Smoking is a dangerous habit that has been linked to lung cancer and other serious cardiopulmonary diseases. It also affects your oral health. In addition to discoloring your tongue, it causes bad breath and stains your teeth, which requires professional cleaning.
The harsh chemicals contained in tobacco smoke can lead to a dulled sense of taste and smell. Along with these cosmetic issues, smoking and the use of chewing tobacco can also lead to other more serious oral health problems.
An infection affecting your gums and the bones surrounding your teeth, periodontal disease is twice as likely in smokers when compared to nonsmokers. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to the soft tissue of your mouth.
A 23-year-long study chronicled in the Journal of the American Dental Associations showed that cigar and pipe smokers experienced similar risks of developing oral health issues as those who smoke cigarettes.
Smoking Interferes with Your Immune System
Your mouth plays a key role in keeping the rest of your body healthy from foodborne bacteria. Smoking reduces blood flow to the mouth and interferes with your immune system, which makes it more difficult for your body to fight off oral infections.
A compromised immune system also prolongs the time required to recover from dental procedures like tooth extractions and periodontal treatments. Smoking also lowers the success rate of dental implant surgery.
Before it enters your lungs, smoke passes through your mouth and throat. Repeated exposure to the irritating chemicals contained in the smoke can cause adverse changes in your mouth that lead to cancer.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, smoking is a significant factor in the majority of cases of oral cancer that are diagnosed each year. Research conducted by the University of California showed that 80 percent of oral cancer patients were smokers. Oral cancer is often a lifestyle disease that can be prevented by kicking the habit and adopting healthier dental care habits.
The use of smokeless tobacco also causes oral health issues. It can irritate your gums, which leads to periodontal disease. These products often contain sugar to enhance the flavor.
This anti-nutrient increases your risk of tooth decay. Chewing tobacco may contain sand and grit that can wear down your teeth causing sensitivity. Like cigarettes, pipes and cigars, chewing tobacco stains your teeth and causes bad breath.
You may also experience gum recession and slower healing after dental treatments. Smokeless tobacco contains more than 25 potential cancer-causing agents. As a result, it is not a safe alternative to smoking.
Nicotine is highly addictive and quitting the use of tobacco products can be challenging. Most people need support. Speak with your dentist about the various cessation programs to find the one that is right for you. It is never too late to start taking better care of your mouth and teeth to experience the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle.