Smoking and Tobacco: Destroyers of Good Oral Health

It's common knowledge that smoking is bad for your health, especially your heart and lungs. Are you aware of the consequences of smoking and tobacco use on your oral health? Your gums and teeth are the first to bear the onslaught of heat and caustic chemicals when you light up that cigarette. Not only does smoking paint a not so pretty picture, but it also increases your risk of oral cancers and other health problems linked to dental disease. Smoking doesn't stand alone in destroying oral health - all tobacco products are harmful. 

Smoking and Those Pearly Whites

Smoking can put a damper on your smile. Smoking stains or discolors teeth, causes bad breath and can lead to tooth loss, all of which affects self-image and confidence. It's the nicotine and tar in tobacco that stain the teeth and eventually builds up in the pores of the enamel, causing tooth discoloration.

The noticeable 'smoker's breath' is from smoke particles and chemicals in tobacco smoke. The heat from smoking dries out the mouth and allows bacteria to grow.

Tobacco smoke reduces blood flow and is toxic to gum tissue. If you smoke or use smokeless tobacco you have a significantly greater risk of getting periodontal (gum) disease - a disease that destroys soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth. With gum disease, pockets form around the teeth and bacteria resides causing infection and inflammation, eventually leading to tooth loss.

Any area in your body that has direct contact with the chemicals in smoke and tobacco is at a higher risk for cancer. For this reason you need to be aware of any changes or sores that persist in your mouth. It's especially important if you smoke or use smokeless tobacco to keep up with regular dentist cleanings and visits, but it's even more vital that you quit for good!

Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body

Research is showing that keeping your gums healthy is good for the rest of your body. Infections in the mouth cause inflammation elsewhere in the body and are linked to heart disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and lung infections. If you have diabetes you are more at risk to develop periodontal disease, which can raise blood sugar and cause other complications. It doesn't stop there; poor oral health is also linked to Alzheimer’s disease and low weight or premature babies.

Lifestyle has a lot to do with your oral health. Make healthy choices in your diet, keep flossing and brushing, and if you smoke make quitting your number one priority. Quitting smoking is a lifestyle change that can only benefit your overall health.

Keep Smiling and Keep the Quit!