It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your health, but it can also be detrimental to your oral health. I’m not just referring to having stained teeth, either; smoking can exacerbate a host of other dental problems that are directly linked to more severe health conditions such as heart disease. If you’re worried about being judged when you come in for an examination, don’t be. The following list of smoking-related dental problems is exactly why it’s so important for smokers to visit the dentist.
Smoking increases your chances of tooth decay. Smoking slows the production of saliva, which is nature’s way of cleaning your teeth. When your salivary glands aren’t functioning normally, your teeth are left vulnerable to plaque and debris that can cause cavities.
Smoking increases your risk of gum disease. Smokers produce more plaque than non-smokers, and when plaque builds up along the gumline, it irritates the gums. Smoking also results in reduced oxygen in the bloodstream, which means that irritated gums take longer to heal. Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults, and according to a study conducted by Ohio State University, more than 40% of gum disease cases are the result of smoking.
Smoking increases your risk of other health concerns. People with gum disease are more likely to suffer from heart disease, strokes, and diabetes among others. Because smoking prevents the immune system from functioning properly, smokers are unable to fight off infection effectively.
Smoking increases your risk of cancer. Not just lung cancer, either. Smokers and smokeless tobacco users are more likely to get oral cancers than those who don’t smoke. This includes cancers affecting the throat, and cancer of the cheeks, gums, and tongue, as well.
If you or a loved one smoke and are not coming in for regular examinations, it’s time to make a change. We do so much more than just clean your teeth; we can catch gum disease before it happens and screen the inside of your mouth for signs of cancer, as well. Ultimately, I want you to quit smoking because I want you to be healthy, but when you come in for your appointment, know that you will not be judged. If you are visiting regularly, then you are taking a step in the right direction - toward improved oral and overall health.