Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in the United States . Smoking can not only cause damage that leads to chronic disease, including DNA damage that can lead to cancer, but it also affects your teeth and gums. But how exactly does smoking affect your smile? Here are the biggest oral health problems that tobacco use can cause.
Smoking Can Trigger Gum Disease
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a major risk for smokers. The chemicals in tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars can promote bad bacteria in the oral cavity that can lead to gum disease.
However, smoking also promotes inflammation and loss of jaw bone, both of which can
accelerate gum disease and make the condition worse . Since nicotine also impacts circulation, smokers are less likely to have noticeable signs of gum disease than non-smokers, increasing the chances that the condition would progress undetected.
Nicotine Can Cause Problems Healing
The nicotine and chemicals in tobacco products also make it more difficult for the body to heal. Smoking affects the function of your immune system as well as cellular turnover, the process in which old cells are replaced with healthy new ones.
Not only does this impaired healing process make it more difficult for the body to fight off oral disease, but it also makes healing from dental procedures more challenging. For example, smokers have a higher rate of failure in dental procedures such as dental implant placement, as well as a higher risk of complications following a procedure .
Smokers Are at Higher Risk for Tooth Loss
If you smoke, you’re also at a higher risk for tooth loss than people who don’t smoke. Smoking accelerates jaw bone loss and attributes to gum disease. Both your jawbone and your gum tissue are major factors in retaining your natural teeth.
Once teeth are lost, replacing them is important to retain the function of your teeth as well as your appearance. But since smokers can experience complications following restoration procedures, you may need to consider quitting or else have limited options for replacing your natural teeth.
Remember That Tobacco Is Linked to Oral Cancer
Tobacco use has also been shown to increase your risk for oral cancer, not to mention a dozen other types of cancers in the body. Oral cancers are cancers of the head, neck, and throat, including lip, mouth, and tongue cancer.
Smokers are 10 times more likely to get oral cancer than non-smokers . If you smoke, dentists recommend an annual oral cancer screening to help identify oral cancer early beginning at the age that you started smoking.
Do You Smoke?
If you smoke, it’s always a good time to consider quitting. Your physician as well as your dentist can help connect you with resources for getting started with kicking your nicotine habit. Ask your dentist how you can take steps to quit and protect your smile today!