It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your health. Your doctor will tell you that it increases your risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke, among many other deadly diseases. But did you know that your dentist has issues with your smoking habit too? Here are 4 ways it can negatively affect your oral health.
1. Gum disease
Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque around the gumline, which causes swelling and irritation. Smoking weakens the body’s immune system, making it more difficult to fight off an infection. Once gums are damaged, the lack of oxygen in your bloodstream (caused by nicotine) means that they will take much longer to heal. Smokers often find that their gums do not bleed, which is actually a bad sign – it masks the early signs of gum disease and by the time it is discovered it can be much harder to treat.
2. Tooth loss
Advanced gum disease is a primary cause of tooth loss, and since smokers frequently miss the early warning signs they are prone to periodontitis – the irreversible later stage of gum disease that can lead to tooth loss. As gums recede and plaque collects at the gumline, the bone and tissues that support teeth are damaged, loosening teeth and eventually causing them to fall out.
3. Oral cancer
Here’s the bad news: as a smoker you are six times more likely to get oral cancer than a non-smoker. Approximately 90% of people with mouth cancer are tobacco users. On the plus side, even heavy smokers can drastically reduce their chances of getting oral cancer by kicking their tobacco habit. After 20 years of being smoke-free, your chances of getting mouth cancer are exactly the same as someone who has never smoked.
Bad breath may seem trivial compared to tooth loss or mouth cancer, but it can have a major lifestyle impact, ruining romantic relationships and hindering job prospects. Several factors contribute to smoker’s breath, including dry mouth (xerostomia), which enables bacteria to thrive and increases the likelihood of gum disease.
Your dental team at Blyton Dental can advise you on the best ways to maintain your oral health and support you on your journey to becoming smoke-free. Regular hygienist appointments are the best way to treat early stage gum disease and prevent tooth loss. To make an appointment with our experienced hygienists, Clare and Emily, contact us today. We look forward to your visit.