Tobacco use may be one of the biggest risk factors in the development of periodontal disease.” — David A. Albert, D.D.S., M.P.H., associate professor at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, millions of Americans per year suffer health complications and death due to smoking and second-hand smoke exposure. Since smoking has detrimental affects on our physical health, this logically means that smoking and using tobacco products potentially harms oral health. Besides the most obvious side effect, bad breath, smoking causes many dental complications and oral health risks including, but not limited to:
- Increased risk of oral cancers,
- Gum or periodontal disease,
- Slower healing after oral surgery and tooth extraction,
- Cosmetic dental problems such as stained and yellowed teeth, missing teeth and stained tongue,
- Reduced sense of smell and taste.
But why does smoking cause periodontal disease and tooth loss? Dr. Albert, mentioned previously, states: “It is believed that the chemicals contained in tobacco interfere with the flow of blood to the gums.” Lack of blood flow is an excellent explanation for the problems with healing and gum disease mentioned above. It is also noticed that smokers develop more tartar or calculus, which increases gum recession, likely due to reductions in saliva due to smoking.
Unfortunately, knowing the risks and potential problems that come with smoking doesn’t prevent many people from beginning or continuing this unhealthy and expensive habit. Yet, quitting smoking is the best way to avoid the problems and dental complications caused by prolonged nicotine and tobacco use.
The dentists at the Placerville Dental Group understand that it’s hard to quit, and we are happy to supply our patients with resources to stop smoking. Our patients may also discuss using prescription medications to gradually reduce and stop smoking. We also recommend replacing smoking habits with healthier ones, such as regular exercise, increased water consumption, and healthy snacks.
Behavioral modifications can also alter smoking habits and increase the success rate of attempts to quit. For example, do you enjoy a cigarette after a meal? Have an alternate plan after meals! Call a friend, go on a walk, or chew sugar-free gum after eating. This is just one suggestion and different methods work for each person. It also takes time to figure out which methods work best, so don’t give up!
Whether smokers or non-smokers, the Placerville Dental Group cares about all of our patients and wants everyone to avoid the health risks associated with smoking. This is especially important for tobacco users, due to their heightened risk for oral complications. If you are a smoker with dental issues, such as teeth staining or loose teeth, do not hesitate to visit our Placerville dental office for a consultation to save your teeth or provide a dental restoration.