Smoking Risks and Oral Health
The risks of smoking and tobacco use are well-established. When it comes to your oral health, smoking can cause several complications that affect your teeth, gums, bones, and other maxillofacial structures. At Palo Alto Oral Health, we believe patient education is the cornerstone of proper oral health. The following information is designed to help you better understand smoking risks and your oral health.
Periodontal Disease and Smoking
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection of the periodontal tissues that eventually spread to the connective ligaments and underlying bone. This infection is caused by your body’s autoimmune response to the harmful bacteria found in plaque. If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause irreversible damage to your soft and hard tissues, ultimately resulting in tooth loss. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the U.S.
Put, smoking and tobacco use can significantly increase your risk of developing periodontal disease. Many studies have shown that smoking can interfere with the normal functioning of gum cells and make smokers more susceptible to infections. Smoking has also been linked to impaired blood flow to the gums, which affects the healing process following injury or trauma.
Tobacco Use and Oral Cancers
As you may well know, many studies have linked smoking, and tobacco use has been linked to several oral and maxillofacial cancers. Smokeless tobacco products can gradually mutate the healthy cells in your mouth until oral cancer occurs. When you inhale smoke, the harmful chemicals in tobacco pass through your mouth and throat first, also increasing your risk of oral cancer. If you want to eliminate certain risk factors associated with oral cancer, the best thing you can do is eliminate smoking and tobacco use from your life.
Staining and Bad Breath
Along with the more serious health risks, smoking and tobacco use is also known to cause significant stains on your teeth. The tar from cigarette smoke can cause the outer layer of the tooth to yellow or darken with time. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), smoking can also diminish your sense of smell and taste.
If you have ever been near someone after they have recently smoked, you know the smell can permeate the air for quite a while. The same is true for bad breath and smoking. Smoking not only results in bad breath immediately after you smoke, but the smell can also linger in your mouth for several hours.
Quitting smoking is the best way to avoid all of the problems listed above. We understand that nicotine is a highly addictive substance, which makes breaking a smoking habit extremely difficult. During one of your appointments, our doctors can help provide you with advice or refer you to a specialist.
If you struggle to quit, be sure to implement excellent oral hygiene practices in the meantime. Daily brushing and flossing can help minimize your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease, even if you smoke. Remember, it’s never too late to make a change and begin the process of a healthier, happier lifestyle!
Schedule an Appointment
If you would like to learn more about the detrimental effects of smoking, or your oral health, our team can help. Call (650) 321-9693 to schedule an appointment today!