Many of us already know about the damage that smoking and using tobacco products can cause to your lungs and body. But, do you know about the harmful effects of smoking on the teeth and mouth? It can cause issues that range from teeth staining to oral cancer. Let’s learn about smoking and oral health.
Oral Health Problems Caused by Tobacco Products
Smoking can cause oral health issues like:
- Reduced sense of smell and taste
- Teeth and tongue staining
- Slow healing in the mouth
- Periodontitis (gum disease)
- Tooth loss
- Bad breath
- Dry mouth
- Oral cancer
Keep in mind that some of these symptoms can cause bigger problems in the future. For example, the dry mouth caused by smoking reduces saliva, lowering your mouth’s ability to protect teeth from acid. Even secondhand smoke can result in some of these symptoms, including gum disease.
On a national scale, smoking reduces our overall oral health. According to the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey, adults over 18 who smoked had more oral health problems than those who didn’t. These respondents experienced:
- Double the chance of losing teeth compared to non-smokers
- Higher rates of tooth sensitivity and toothache
- A lower chance of visiting the dentist within the previous three years
Maintaining Good Oral Health
Practicing good oral hygiene becomes more important than ever when you use tobacco products. To ensure that your teeth and mouth stay in optimal health, remember to:
- Visit a dentist twice a year for cleanings and examinations
- Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes
- Floss once a day
- When you brush and floss, use proper techniques to make sure that you get every part of your mouth
- Avoid food high in carbohydrates and acid
Regular dentist visits are especially important for tobacco smokers since they can detect the signs and symptoms of diseases like oral cancer. They can also give you advice on how to best take care of your oral health.
While oral hygiene can reduce the impact of tobacco on your teeth, the best way to avoid the consequences is to quit smoking entirely. Of course, we understand that quitting is easier said than done. Fortunately, people trying to quit have plenty of resources on their side. If stopping cold turkey doesn’t work, try quitting methods such as:
- Smoking cessation medicine: Prescription medications from a doctor can reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
- Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT): NRT products come in all sorts of forms, including patches, gum and lozenges. Your body will still get the nicotine it craves, but without the toxins that cigarettes contain.
- Counseling: You can talk to a counselor online, on the phone or in-person who will help you develop quitting strategies and keep you accountable.
Some people use only one of these approaches, while other folks try more than one. If you find yourself smoking again, don’t get down on yourself — just try again and see if another strategy works better. By stopping smoking, you’re making an important decision for your future, which doesn’t always happen overnight.
Schedule a Visit to Gateway Dentistry Group Today
At Gateway Dentistry Group, we aim to help people keep their mouths as healthy as possible. Get in touch today — we’re accepting new patients!