Millions of Americans have lost teeth due to a number of reasons including tooth decay, gum disease and injury. Gum disease and tooth decay may advance to the point where teeth have to be extracted or fall out. An accident or injury may damage a tooth beyond repair or knock it out. If you are…
General Dentistry: How a Tobacco Habit Harms Your Mouth
General dentistry professionals work hard to educate patients about poor lifestyle choices. Everyone knows that smoking negatively impacts a person’s health. In particular, it can cause lung cancer, COPD and emphysema. A tobacco habit can also harm the mouth. Whether you smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco, now is the perfect time to stop.
The growing tobacco industry
Even with medical professionals and dentists joining forces, millions of people still use tobacco products. In the U.S. alone, smoking cigarettes accounts for more than 480,000 deaths each year. Along with the 34.3 million Americans who smoke are another 852 million around the globe. Add in cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco and even more people are at risk.
Using general dentistry to educate patients
Besides the various health-related illnesses mentioned, tobacco use can cause damage to the mouth. As a prime example, smoking and chewing can both lead to oral cancer. This is why general dentists strive to inform their patients about the dangers of tobacco use. While their efforts have made a difference, there is a lot more work needed.
How does tobacco use affect oral health?
Getting oral cancer is probably the worst-case scenario for tobacco users. However, using tobacco can lead to many additional problems, specific to the mouth. One example is that nicotine can slow down the flow of saliva. When that happens, an individual would likely have dry mouth. On that same note, smoking can also thicken saliva. As a result, it no longer provides teeth with optimal protection.
Gum disease is another consequence of using tobacco products. Smoking affects both bone attachment and soft tissue that holds teeth in place. What happens is that smoking changes the way that gum tissue cells function. As a result, people become more susceptible to infections. One of these is gum disease.
Additional risks to oral health
Tobacco use can lead to a broad range of oral health issues. This can increase plaque and tartar buildup, which causes tooth decay. It also creates a risk for leukoplakia, which are white patches that form inside the mouth. Because tobacco use impairs blood flow, patients heal slower after a root canal, tooth extraction or some other procedure. As explained by a professional in general dentistry, this might also disqualify someone for a dental implant.
Some of the less dangerous effects include yellowed teeth and bad breath. However, as part of general dentistry, dental professionals tell patients everything. Whether the effect is small or significant, patients need to know. Making a change by giving up this habit is the best thing a person can do.
Reasons to stop using tobacco
Talk to a general dentist about other potential risks of using tobacco products. The more educated you become, the more likely you are to quit. You deserve to have a healthy mouth and beautiful smile. The best way to accomplish that is by giving up tobacco.
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