It is widely known that tobacco smoking is harmful to the health, yet it is such a popular lifestyle habit. While smoking alone does not result in tooth decay, it causes bad breath, discolouration of the teeth and the tongue, periodontal or gum disease, cancer of the oral cavity, decreased ability to taste and smell, delayed healing of gums and tissue of an extraction or other dental/oral procedure, as well as making it more difficult to perform dental cosmetic procedures due to damage of the supporting structures.
Some additional oral issues tobacco smoking causes are greater accumulation up of plaque and tartar on the teeth, swelling in the roof of the mouth, which causes blockage of the salivary glands and also eventual reduction of bone mass in the jaw line.
How to Improve Your Oral Health
- Kick The Habit
The highly addictive nature of tobacco use makes the problems associated with its use quite prevalent however there are methods which can used to help in the shedding of the habit. The nicotine patch has been a popular option for people looking to get rid of the habit.
Fortunately, the risk of gum disease for persons who were smokers in the past significantly decreases and more closely resembles the risk for non-smokers, so this is an additional incentive to want to stop. Other efforts to aid in dropping the habit include the use of prescribed medications to suppress the urges and cravings.
Additional support may be accessed through support groups, where you may receive assistance to strengthen your resolve to not return to the damaging lifestyle habit.
- Pay Attention to Your Oral Hygiene
You can further improve your oral health by ensuring that proper attention is given to oral hygiene. Brushing twice a day flossing at least one time a day helps to remove the cancer causing substances from the mouth to lower your risk for oral cancer. It is also important to use the proper techniques when brushing and flossing for this to be optimally effective. You may seek the advice of your dentist or hygienist who will guide you in terms of the proper way to do both.
- Stick to Your Regularly Scheduled Dental Appointments
Another healthy practice to adopt is to ensure that you attend regularly scheduled visits to your dentist. The recommended time frame is once every six months or two times within in a year. Your dentist will be able to readily identify any abnormalities in the mouth such as lesions or ulcers, which might be tell-tale signs of the development of an oral cancer.
Your best chances of successfully treating or ridding yourself of cancer is to find it early, so these check-ups should not be neglected. This is why the number one way to protect your oral health is you are a smoker is to quit the habit altogether.
What About Smokeless Tobacco?
Many people believe that if you are not actually smoking the tobacco then there are not many health risks for you. This assumption is quite incorrect, because many of the forms of tobacco which are now chewed have sweeteners added to them, which result in tooth decay over time. People who chew tobacco as opposed to actually smoking it, are also at 6 times greater risk for contracting oral cancer than those who do not smoke at all.
It has also been found that many forms of chewable tobacco have sand or grit which has been added to enhance the chewing experience. These abrasive substances result in the gradual erosion of the teeth surfaces, diminishing the enamel, thus encouraging increased incidence of tooth decay.
What About Pipe Use? Does It Make a Difference?
People who smoke from pipes have similar risk for developing oral and throat cancers as those who smoke cigarettes. In fact, because the pipe is always held in the same position between the lips, the chances for lip cancer are increased.
How Does Tobacco Smoking Result in Gum Disease?
As was mentioned before, while smoking does not directly cause cavities, it does result in a degradation of the structures which support the teeth. Initially, smoking will cause the gums to swell and become painfully inflamed. This inflammation is a result of infection, which will become progressively worse as the smoking habit continues, and causes inflammation to spread to below the gum line, which will eventually affect connective and soft tissues, leading to the eventual degradation of the bones which hold teeth in place. This results in tooth loss and also causes damage which may or may not be repairable. This presents difficulties to efforts to try to use dental prosthetics or implants to replace lost teeth, and the healing process is also greatly reduced.
Your best chance for maintaining the healthiest you, is to let go of the habit now. Consult your doctor to get support and advice as to how to start the process without delay.
Author Bio – Paul Smith, the author of this article writes on behalf of Thantakit International Dental Center, a world-class dental center famous for high-quality cosmetic dental work such as veneers, crowns and bridges, Invisalign etc as well as renowned for international dentists in Bangkok.