It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your overall health but using tobacco products can have serious consequences on your oral health, too.It’s been proven to cause cancer, respiratory ailments and heart disease.But as if that weren’t bad enough, tobacco use is pretty much the worst thing you can do for your oral health. On top of the increased risk of mouth and tongue cancers, smoking and tobacco use causes:
• Gum disease
• Bad breath
• Plaque and tartar buildup
• Bone loss
• Inflamed saliva glands
• Tooth discoloration
Tobacco use also makes dental procedures and surgeries take longer to heal, and dental implant procedures tend to be less successful for smokers
Smoking and Oral Cancer
“The most serious issue is mouth cancer,” It’s hard to say what percentage of people who smoke will get mouth cancer, but the death rate of those who do get it is high between 40 and 50 percent of all cases, and that hasn’t changed over the last few decades. Likewise, the risk of oral cancer is six times higher among smokers relative to non-smokers. Your individual risk of oral cancer depends on how long you’ve been using tobacco the longer you use it, the greater your risk.
Protecting Your Oral Heath
The following three principles can help to ensure good oral health throughout the years:
- Quit smoking. After you’ve quit smoking, your risk of oral health problems decreases significantly. And the longer you remain a non-smoker, the lower your risk becomes. A decade after you’ve quit, your risk for periodontal disease is similar to that of a person who never smoked at all. “A lot of dentists now are taking the initiative to ask patients about their smoking habits, and are talking about the [nicotine] patch” and other ways to help people quit.
- Get regular dental checkups. As with most cancers, early detection can improve your outcome. “The good news is that regular checkups by a dentist are a good way to catch oral cancer early,” Any mouth ulcers can be checked out with a biopsy, and you can get a diagnosis.The sooner you start treatment, the better your odds of survival.
- Brush properly. “Most people who have periodontal disease develop it from not brushing and flossing properly,” The heat and carcinogens found in cigarettes and tobacco are also damaging to your mouth and gums. So people who use tobacco need to be doubly careful about brushing and flossing correctly and doing so as often as recommended. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist to watch you brush and floss to make sure you’re doing a thorough job.
Tips to Help You Quit Tobacco Use:
Periodontal treatment can be more difficult in tobacco users, so your periodontist will urge you to quit tobacco use. The good news is that quitting may gradually erase the harmful effects of tobacco use on periodontal health.Starting a smoking cessation program is a huge commitment and support might ease the process. To begin, ask your periodontist or physician, or contact your local hospital for more information on programs that best fit your needs. Other tips recommended to help the tobacco-cessation program include:
- Picking a stress-free time to quit.
- Asking for support and encouragement from family,friends, and colleagues.
- Starting some form of exercise or activity each day to relieve stress and improve your health.
- Getting plenty of rest and eating a well-balanced diet.
- Joining a stop-smoking program, or other support group.
- Brushing your teeth often.
- Changing your daily routine and spending more time in places where smoking is prohibited.
- Keeping oral substitutes handy such as carrots,apples, and sugarless gum.