September 2018 Dental Newsletter

Smoking At The Cost Of Oral Health

Everyone knows smoking is harmful to the body and a person’s health. Despite all the known health risks, it is a notoriously hard habit to break. Many smokers struggle for years to quit and deal with the side effects and declining health while continuing to smoke. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, and can also cause cancer anywhere in the body. It is bad for your health in numerous ways, but there are things about this habit that are particularly detrimental to your mouth and teeth. You can quit now to improve your health and save your teeth!

Smoking And The Mouth

Most noticeably, smoking affects the appearance of your smile. The nicotine in cigarette smoke stains teeth a yellow color and will dull any smile. A typical smoker’s mouth is full of stained teeth and emits bad, stale breath. Smoking will slow saliva flow and cause dry mouth, dulling the senses of taste and smell due to damage to the taste buds. This can lead to other issues when smokers add more salt and sugar to food or use sugary gum and lozenges to encourage saliva production. The more frequently you have a cigarette and the longer you smoke, the more likely you are to develop oral cancer or gum disease. Advanced gum disease in smokers means bone deterioration in the jaw, which leads to tooth loss and makes replacing teeth with implants difficult.

Smoking And Oral Surgery

Another way smoking is particularly harmful to the mouth is when a patient needs an extraction or procedure. Smoking after a tooth extraction or gum procedure is dangerous because the sucking action used to inhale a cigarette can dislodge a blood clot at the surgery site. This creates what is called a dry socket, which is at serious risk for infection and can cause intense pain. Smoking also causes blood vessels to shrink, so they deliver less oxygen and fewer nutrients to the wound area and it slows the healing process. After any extraction or gum procedure, you should avoid smoking for as long as you can. Even if you aren’t able to quit yet, you should wait at least five days to significantly decrease these risks.

You Can Stop Now!

Some long-term smokers, even when dealing with the unfortunate effects, develop the opinion that the damage smoking is doing to their body has been done and these changes are permanent. The truth is that whenever a person quits smoking the body starts recovering. Even cutting down on smoking can significantly reduce health risks. Once a person has 11 years of not smoking behind them, they can bring their mouth and gums back to a point where they are no more likely to develop gum disease than someone who has never smoked!

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