Don’t Let Your Oral Health Go Up in Smoke

There’s a high probability of you having realized by now that smoking tobacco is absolutely destructive to your health. Endless reports show that smoking and chewing tobacco can lead to various types of cancers, as well as emphysema, severe complications during pregnancy, and premature death. Some of the science behind the destruction can be overwhelmingly complex. In the belief that knowledge is power, your Sheridan dentists explain how tobacco can destroy your oral health.

Aside from Cancer…

Oral, throat, and lung cancer are among the most common forms of cancer caused by tobacco, but smoking is capable of so much more. Other effects of smoke include tooth discoloration, which could be improved with cosmetic teeth whitening, and bad breath, which will most likely not be resolved until the habit is kicked. But wait, there’s more. Smoking and smokeless tobacco use can also cause the following:

  • Inflammation of the salivary glands, which open at the roof of the mouth. This leads to chronic dry mouth, or xerostomia, which comes with a greatly-increased risk for developing tooth decay and gum disease, as well as malnutrition due to difficulty eating.
  • Increased buildup of plaque and tartar, which also lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Increased alveolar (jaw) bone loss, which diminishes tooth support. When a tooth is lost, the missing tooth also exacerbates jawbone loss, throwing your oral health into a vicious cycle of disease, tooth loss, and bone degradation, plus increased risk of infection from tobacco use.
  • Inhibited recovery process following a tooth extraction, periodontal treatment, or any other oral surgery.
  • Lower chances of a successful implant procedure (which requires proper jawbone healing to function properly).
  • Increased risk of severe periodontitis (chronic gum disease).

How Does Smoking Cause Gum Disease?

Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, 400 of which are toxic and 43 of which are known cancer-causing carcinogens. These irritants can affect the connective tissue that holds your gums to your teeth, causing the gums to recede and create small pockets for infection to nest. The smoke also interferes with the proper function of gum tissue cells, making them more susceptible to infection and disease. Because smoke also impairs blood flow to the gums, the impaired healing process creates a greater opportunity for infectious bacteria to enter into your bloodstream through diseased gum tissue.
The only proven method of defense against tobacco smoke’s assault on your oral health is to quit smoking altogether. Lessening your tobacco consumption has proven to show benefits as well, but so long as your oral tissue cells are exposed to toxic smoke, they will always be at risk. For more information on tobacco and your oral health, or for assistance in smoking cessation, contact our Sheridan dental office at (307) 672-7567 to schedule an appointment. We welcome patients from Sheridan, WY and the surrounding communities.