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Smoking and Your Oral Health

Smoking and Oral Health

People are aware that smoking is bad for their health, however they don’t always realize the impacts it has on their teeth and gums. Smoking can lead to simple things like bad breath, gum disease, tooth staining, and more severe things like tooth loss and even mouth cancer.

A typical concern for smokers is bad breath. Mouthwash is one temporary solution, as are chewing gums and mints. There are no long-term solutions for bad breath caused by smoking.

Smoking can lead to gum disease – people who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque, which leads to gum disease. Smoking can also cause a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, which doesn’t allow the gums to heal as quickly. When your gums are infected and don’t heal as quickly, you are at more risk for tooth loss. Due to the tar and nicotine and tobacco, another side effect of smoking is also staining or yellowing of your teeth. This doesn’t take long to see the effects, and long-term use of smoking can lead to your teeth becoming almost brown in appearance.

Smoking Causes More Damage Than Bad Breath

Smoking is also linked to mouth cancer. Mouth cancer affects the lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat. Tobacco chewing increases your risk; however, tobacco use in general increases your risk of mouth cancer. Mouth cancer is the eleventh most common cancer diagnosis worldwide. Be aware of what is going on in your mouth. If you have ulcers that do not heal within three weeks, any unusual red or white patches, lumps in your neck or jaw area, or persistent hoarseness these are all reasons to be checked out by your dentist. Most likely it is nothing serious, but having an exam and being overly cautious is better to err on the side of caution.

There are special toothpastes out there for people who smoke. They tend to be a little more abrasive than your ordinary toothpaste and should be used with care. Ask your dentist for recommendations. There are also whitening toothpastes that may help with the staining of your teeth, they will not help with the natural coloring of your teeth, but they may help to remove the stains and improve the overall stains you have gained.

If you smoke, it is imperative you get regular dental check-ups with full mouth examinations, so that any uncommon conditions can be detected early. Early diagnosis is the best bet for any disease. As a smoker, it may be recommend you come in for cleanings and check-ups every 3-6 months.