Statistics don’t lie.
If you’re a smoker, we’re sure you hear it all the time– you need to quit! Although it’s easier said than done, you should try and make it a priority in your life. Consider that 16 percent of smokers have poor dental health, and more than a third of smokers have at least three dental health issues.
Nationally, tobacco contributes to about one-third of U.S. cancer rates, one-quarter of heart disease, and about 490,000 premature deaths each year. Tobacco is a known cause of lung, bladder, mouth, pharyngeal, pancreatic, kidney, stomach, laryngeal, and esophageal cancer. About ten million people in the U.S. have died from causes attributed to smoking and tobacco use.
Here are 5 ways smoking negatively affects your dental health, specifically.
1.) Bad Breath
No one likes to be around people with foul breath, but when you smoke, that’s exactly what you get. One major side effect of smoking and chewing tobacco-based products is bad breath. You can also look forward to stained teeth, and a reduced ability to taste foods.
Additionally, chronic bad breath is a sign of the onset of gum disease.
2.) Periodontal Disease
Using tobacco causes problems with your gums that range from cosmetic, to painful, to downright dangerous. Tobacco use in any form, including cigarettes and chewing tobacco, increases the tartar buildup in your mouth and decreases the flow of saliva that’s needed to wash away harmful bacteria.
When you smoke, you may notice problems developing including: blood when brushing/flossing your teeth, loose teeth, pain when chewing, and bad breath. These are all signs of gum (periodontal disease) and need be addressed with your dentist immediately.
3.) Yellow Teeth
Over time, smoking can cause your teeth to turn yellow or even a yellowish-brown color. The main cause of dental staining is nicotine and tar. The nicotine and tar from smoking leaks into your tooth’s enamel through tiny pores, leaving them discolored.
4.) Oral Cancer
Next, studies indicate that there’s a huge link between the use of tobacco products and oral cancer. One study conducted at the University of California found that more than eight out of ten oral cancer patients were smokers.
Approximately 53,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, and more than 9,750 people die from oral cancer every year in the U.S. alone. Oral cancer represents about 4 percent of all cancers and 2.2 percent of all cancer deaths worldwide.
5.) Deteriorates Teeth
Finally, cigarettes limit your mouths ability to fight infection. Tobacco use leaves you defenseless against the bacteria that’s produced when you smoke. When your mouth can’t fight back, plaque and bacteria fester, which leads to the need for extensive dental work and eventual tooth loss.
Make an Appointment
There’s a reason why smokers don’t like to visit the dentist– they don’t want a guilt trip! We promise to never make you feel guilty and we’ll never lecture you. We just want to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to stay healthy. If it’s been over six months since your last appointment, you’re due for a check-up! Make one today.
Dr. Randall Burba is an American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry accredited dentist, with a practice in Salem, Massachusetts. He considers himself an artist–with teeth and beyond! He often paints, draws and has a passion for woodworking