How Smoking Affects the Teeth
You already know that smoking is bad for your heart and your lungs. Did you know that it’s also bad for your oral health? You might think that smoking only affects your dental health in the sense that it gives you halitosis, or bad breath. What you might not know is that there are other ramifications to smoking that affect the health of your teeth and gums. Read on to find out more about them.
Smoking Discolors Your Teeth
While it’s more cosmetic than anything else, most smokers are aware that their teeth are not as white as they once were. The tar and chemicals in cigarettes and cigars leave debris and stains on the teeth that don’t come off easily by brushing and flossing. Your hygienist can polish some of the stains off every six months, but your teeth won’t be as bright as they used to be until and unless you stop smoking and go through a teeth whitening regimen.
Smoking Leads to Oral Cancer
You probably already knew about your increased risk of lung cancer, but did you now that smoking also raises your risk of developing oral cancer? Oral cancer can affect any part of the mouth, tongue, or throat. Symptoms include a sore that doesn’t heal within two weeks, rough or raw patches in the mouth, lumps, and unexplained bleeding. If you are experiencing any of these, see your dentist promptly.
Smoking Leads to Gum Disease
There are several reasons why smokers are more prone to gum disease. One is that the act of smoking dries out the tissues and makes them more fragile and susceptible to bacteria. Another is that smoking raises inflammation levels and that includes inflammation of the gums. Gum disease can lead to infections and tooth loss, so if you notice the symptoms (bleeding gums or loose teeth), make an appointment with your dentist promptly.
Quitting smoking is difficult, but there are products that can help. If you are interested in quitting, talk to your physician about ways you can add years to your life and reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and cancer. Your health depends on it!