Most people are aware that smoking is seriously harmful to your overall health and is often fatal. In fact, cigarettes are linked to more than 480,000 deaths in the United States every year, including deaths from secondhand smoke. Many people are less aware of the ways in which long-term tobacco use is harmful to your oral health.
Smoking is one of the most critical risk factors for developing gum disease. Smokers are two times more likely than non-smokers to develop gum disease, and treatments for gum disease may be less effective on people who smoke. Use of all forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and chewing tobacco, can contribute to gum disease. This is because tobacco dries out your mouth and encourages the buildup of harmful plaque and tartar. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults and it is not reversible once it progresses to an advanced stage.
Staining and Discoloration
Another long-term effect of tobacco use is tooth staining and discoloration. The nicotine and tar found in cigarettes and other tobacco products can make your teeth appear yellow, grey, or even brown over time. Over-the-counter whitening treatments are not usually effective for people with tobacco-related staining, so more expensive professional whitening is typically the only option for smokers who want to brighten their teeth.
Oral cancer is part of the head and neck category of cancers, and it can affect the lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, or other mouth tissues. Oral cancer has a higher death rate than many other common forms of cancer, and over 50,000 Americans are diagnosed per year. Tobacco use is the biggest risk factor for developing oral cancer.
Smoking Interferes with Healing
Smoking interferes with your body's healing process because it decreases the flow of oxygen to your body, slows down blood flow, prevents bones from healing, and worsens your body's ability to fight infections. Whether you are undergoing oral surgery, being treated for gum disease, or having restorative dental work done, smoking can significantly slow down the healing process and increase your risk for serious complications. To learn more about the connection between smoking and oral health, contact our office today.
ORAL SURGERY SPECIALISTS OF AUSTIN
Derrick Flint, MD, DDS | Matthew Largent, MD, DDS