While smoking cigarettes is not nearly as trendy as it once was, it’s flame is far from extinguished. In the U.S., nearly 14 of every 100 adults—an estimated 34.2 million—light up on a regular basis. Scare tactics and finger-wagging aside, what are the effects of smoking on teeth, really?
Sure, smokers may have a harder time maintaining fresh breath and pearly white teeth, but good oral hygiene habits such as using mouthwash, brushing regularly and even visiting Lifetime Family Dental to get teeth professionally whitened can certainly help with that. The bigger and more threatening effects of smoking on teeth and oral health, however, come with prolonged tobacco use.
What’s the Big Deal?
Over time, smoking actually weakens gum tissue, essentially loosening it from the teeth and allowing for bacteria to fester beneath the gum line. This end result is called periodontitis, which can lead to tooth and bone loss within the jaw. This corrosion can also inhibit the success rate of dental implants should patients wish to replace missing teeth. It is important to note that since smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in blood, the mouth’s ability to heal is compromised – increasing the likelihood of an infection.
On the brighter side, one study showed that smokers who cut back to less than a half of a pack per day also reduced their risk of developing gum disease by half as compared to their heavier smoking, pack-and-a-half-per-day peers who were six times more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers. For those who were able to give up smoking altogether, their likelihood of developing gum disease resembles that of non-smokers.
Not surprisingly, those who use tobacco products are also six times more likely to develop cancer of the mouth, lips, tongue, esophagus, larynx, throat and so forth. In fact, tobacco users make up 90% of these kinds of cancer cases.
We’re Here to Help
It goes without saying that smoking can have some serious effects on the teeth and your overall health. If you’re interested in cutting back, or quitting altogether, consider speaking with your doctor or dentist at Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert about over-the-counter or prescription remedies that can assist you along the way.