Ask The Expert

How Tobacco Use Affects Your Oral Health

Nov 13 • 3 minute read

When you think of the effects of smoking and tobacco, the first thing you think of isn’t usually your mouth.

But the effects are there and shouldn’t be overlooked. Smoking is a major contributor to many dental problems.

Often times your oral health is a good indicator of the healing process when we finally kick the habit of smoking.

Why should we be concerned about the oral effects of smoking?

Your smile is the first thing people notice. In fact, 94% of people notice your smile first.

From a business point of view, your smile can affect your customer service, your job interviews, and when signing that next deal with a big client.

But that’s just from an appearance perspective! There are so many long lasting health issues caused by smoking.

The Effects on the Oral Cavity

On the surface, smoking and tobacco use causes discoloured teeth and bad breath. Neither of those things are very pleasant but those are mostly cosmetic effects.

But bad breath may be the least of your worries.

Continued smoking can lead to a weakened immune system and a diminished sense of taste. A weakened immune system can reduce your ability to recover from sickness or surgery but also increase your likelihood of illness.

Tobacco’s greatest threat to the human body is its association with oral cancer. 90% of people with mouth cancer have used tobacco products especially smokeless tobacco.

In fact, a study from the Journal of American Dental Association found that smokeless tobacco contains sugars for enhancing the flavour. This led to users being four times more likely to develop tooth decay. Typically chewing tobacco can also wear down your teeth as it contains sand and grit.

Smoking is one of the most significant causes of gum or periodontal disease. The inflammation of the gums around the teeth can damage the supporting bone structure of the teeth and eventually tooth loss.

Not only can tobacco cause tooth decay and oral cancer but any restorative dentistry work attempting to fix the damages can be challenging. This results in lowered success rate of dental implant procedures, and uneven crowning.

Breaking the Habit

It can feel impossible to break smoking habits. But regardless of how long you’ve been using tobacco, it’s never too late to stop.

Quitting right now will greatly reduce serious health risks, you just have to start

Even just beginning by smoking or chewing less than you did previously can help. Studies say that if a smoker reduces their habits down to less than half a pack a day they only are three times more at risk than nonsmokers of developing gum disease. This is a huge difference compared to the six times higher risk for those that smoked more than half a pack a day.

How to Quit

The first step is wanted to stop and improve your overall health as well as your oral health. For some people, in order to stop they set a date for when to quit.

To stop using tobacco start by talking to your dentist. By opening up a conversation, you can allow them to help you step by step.

They can provide medications such as nicotine gum and patches to help calm the cravings. They can also help monitor you, through regular check ups and keep you accountable.

There are classes and support groups offered through your local hospitals. It may help to talk to others that have gone through and are still going through the same process as you. They can help provide advice and you can both hold each other accountable.

It’s important to note, that trying to quit is not easy. Prepare for setbacks when they come by having a support system from friends, family, your doctor and dentist, as well as the people you meet in your support groups. When a setback does arise, seek help for overcoming them.

It’s never too late to start.

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