You probably know that using tobacco is bad for your overall health, so it should be no surprise that tobacco use has a negative effect on your oral health as well. The choice to smoke tobacco products contributes to a wide variety of oral health issues. Some of the potential consequences of tobacco use include:
- Oral Cancer
- Gum disease
- Bad breath
- Stained teeth and tongue
- Greater difficulty in correcting cosmetic dental problems
- Slowed healing after a tooth extraction or oral surgery
- Dulled sense of taste and smell
According to two separate 30 year studies from Tufts University in Boston, smokers are about twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers are. The Academy of General Dentistry estimates that a one-pack-a-day smoking habit can cost a smoker to lose approximately two teeth every ten years.
The seriousness of oral health risks is equally high for those who use smokeless tobacco. As the tobacco eats away at the gums, smokeless tobacco users will have more root cavities. Additionally, as the gum line recedes, the roots of the teeth are more sensitive and more vulnerable to bacteria. Long-term tobacco chewers can be up to 50 times more likely to get cancer in the cheeks and gums.
Every year, 35,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer in the United States. In the next 12 months, 7,500 Americans will die from oral cancer. The good news is that if the cancer can be detected early, it can be cured. Next time you visit your dentist, ask about oral cancer screenings. At every professional cleaning and exam, your doctor will likely check your mouth for potentially cancerous lesions or sores. Other detection methods, such as the Sapphire Lesion Detection, can also be used to test for cancerous growth at a reasonable price. These are highly recommended for all patients, but they are especially important for patients that use tobacco.
The best thing you can do to prevent oral cancer and the other oral health issues outlined in this article is to avoid smoking and using tobacco altogether. Quitting is by no means an easy thing to do, but if tobacco use has become a habit of yours, quitting is the best thing to do for your oral health. By making the choice to overcome your habits, you are choosing to keep your smile happy and healthy for years to come.