If you’re still hanging onto a smoking habit, booking regular visits to the dentist is a must. This highly addictive habit has major consequences for your oral health, including gum disease, tooth loss, and even oral cancer. So it’s vital for your dentist to fully examine your teeth, cheeks, tongue, and throat for any damage caused by the chemicals in tobacco.
Better yet? Work on a plan to quit. Even if you’ve smoked for many years, you’ll see immediate and long-term improvements to your oral health. One study showed that smokers have an 80 percent higher risk for periodontal disease than those who don’t smoke—but quitting smoking reduces the risk of the onset and progression of gum disease.
Giving up smoking will add years to your life by saving your heart, lungs, and brain from serious damage. Here’s what it will do for your oral health:
Return your teeth to pearly white status.
Once exposed to the nicotine and tar in cigarette tobacco, your teeth’s bright white enamel will quickly turn an unattractive shade of yellow—heavy smokers often complain their teeth are nearly brown after years of smoking.
Eliminate a major source of bad breath.
Ever heard of “smokers’ breath”? With nearly 600 different ingredients, a lit cigarette emits thousands of chemicals that dry out your mouth, lead to bacteria build-up, and linger in your mouth and lungs for hours. Your mouth is dying for fresh breath…and so are the people around you!
Let you taste and smell normally again!
Smoking can alter the shape of your taste buds and affect the formation of blood vessels, leading to decreased taste and smell sensitivity. Your sense of taste and smell are normally recovered quickly after quitting smoking.
Lessen your risk for cavities, decay, and tooth loss.
The chemicals in tobacco products affect your saliva flow, making it easier for bacteria to stick to your teeth and gums—and that leads to cavities, decay, and eventually, tooth loss.
Say goodbye to mouth sores and ulcers.
Giving up smoking will help reduce painful mouth sores caused by the harmful chemicals in cigarettes that inflame and irritate the mouth’s mucous membranes.
Protect you from gum and periodontal disease.
People who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque, which leads to gum disease. Once you quit smoking, don’t freak out if your gums bleed more. Most smokers have poor circulation and many don’t experience bleeding gums. When you quit smoking, blood circulation improves in your gums, sometimes causing frequent bleeding — your dentist will help you manage this short-term issue and check for other signs of gum disease such as toothaches, red and tender gums, tooth loss, and swelling.
Strengthen your immune system.
Smokers’ immune systems become compromised, increasing the risk of oral disease and longer recovery from dental surgical procedures.
Limit your risk of getting oral cancer.
Here’s where it gets real—quitting smoking lets you live longer. At least 69 of those 600 chemicals found in cigarettes cause cancer. The harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco cause mutations in the healthy cells of your mouth and throat, increasing your risk of developing oral cancer.
Quitting smoking is hard stuff. But it’s never too late to stop this harmful habit, and it’s worth the short-term struggle. Your dentist can work with you on a plan to help quit smoking and discuss treatments for any smoking-related issues with your oral health.
Your team at Loudoun Smile Center is here for support and resources—contact us anytime!