Tobacco Usage Effect On Oral Health


At this point every adult on the planet earth should know smoking adversely affects your health. Even specifics are commonly known, such as the fact smoking causes heart disease, cancer, stroke or lung disease. What many may not know about the habit is it can cause you to lose teeth. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, for every ten years a male smokes, he loses 3 teeth and for every ten years a female smokes, she loses 1.5 teeth.

This may not seem like a big problem compared to other health issues but losing teeth as an adult is a very serious problem. If the tooth is not replaced, your teeth can move and change your bite leading to issues with speaking and eating. Also, when a tooth is not replaced, it causes bone loss in your jaw. Therefore, tooth loss leads to the need for tooth replacement with methods like dental implants.

Issues With Tobacco Usage

The American Dental Association devotes much research to these problems.  Here are some specific ways tobacco impacts your oral health:

  • AppearanceTeeth are open to staining over time and smoking or smokeless tobacco may stain your teeth yellowing them. They both cause bad breath.
  • Blood Flow – Tobacco causes gum tissue not to operate properly restricting blood flow and leading to infections. It typically delays healing from oral surgery, tooth loss or gum disease.
  • Plaque and Tartar – Tobacco has chemicals which affect saliva production in your mouth which leads to bacteria sticking easily to teeth and gums. If not removed with proper flossing and brushing, it hardens to form tartar that can only be removed by an intensive  professional cleaning.
  • Cancer – Smokers are six times more likely to develop mouth cancers compared to nonsmokers. Ninety percent of patients who are diagnosed with oral cancers used a form of tobacco.

Gum Disease and Smoking

If you are a smoker or use smokeless tobacco, you are much more likely to have gum disease which may lead to damaged roots causing your teeth to fall out. The habit also weakens your immune system making healing from and fighting off disease more difficult.

Not using tobacco would be the top treatment for maintaining your oral health. However, it is extremely important for you to maintain good oral hygiene, whether you choose to stop smoking or not. Avoiding gum disease is only possible through dental habits like brushing your teeth daily and flossing. Regular visits to a dental office for cleanings and checkups can help catch problems early.

Everyone should visit a dentist twice a year for a teeth cleaning and evaluation to help prevent gum disease or plan for treatment if you already have it. If your gums bleed when you floss, this is a sign of gingivitis which is inflammation of the gums. If you don’t treat it, it will lead to gum disease which is also called periodontitis. For a smoker, this is a path leading to many issues with your oral health.

Dental Emergencies

For anyone that uses tobacco, it is important to pay close attention to any changes or issues in your mouth. If you have any of the following, you must make an emergency dentist appointment.

  • Loose Tooth – An adult should never have a loose or moving tooth.
  • Swollen Jaw or Gums – Swelling is a sign of infection. Other signs include fever, a bad taste in your mouth and issues swallowing or breathing. This type of infection is very serious.
  • Bleeding Gums – Any form of bleeding when flossing may be a sign of gingivitis or gum disease. If the bleeding happens often, is excessive or makes your gums ache, you will need an evaluation.
  • Terrible Toothache – Severe pain is a signal that something is wrong and needs to be checked.
  • Dental Abscess – An abscess is a painful infection typically at the root of the tooth. It can be caused by a cavity or gum disease. This type of infection is also very serious.
  • Mouth Sores – If you have any type of sore in your mouth that will not go away, you need to have it checked immediately.

Tobacco usage can adversely affect your oral health causing long term issues which will need treatment. Regular check ups are imperative as your dental health is directly tied to other issues like heart disease and stroke. This link between oral issues and overall health issues makes it even more important to be vigilant about good oral hygiene along with keeping an eye out for any issues that might require dental emergency care.

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