One of the suggestions your dentist will give for maintaining excellent oral health is to quit smoking. Tobacco products are responsible for many conditions affecting the oral cavity. Cigarettes cause more than just bad breath — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that deaths from cigarettes in America are as high as 480,000 annually, with 41,000 of those deaths caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.
Smoking and oral health
Although cigarette smoking is known to cause lung cancer and heart-related diseases, it can also cause dental disease. These risks can be controlled by quitting smoking. However, it is not that simple. Of all the smokers that attempt to stop every year, only one out of 10 actually do it successfully in the long term. The issue lies in nicotine, tobacco’s active ingredient which is highly addictive and triggers chemical and behavioral dependence. Nicotine reorients the brain to feel ecstatic when it gets the chemical and feel bad upon deprivation.
Side effects of smoking
Other potential side-effects of smoking include:
- Discolored teeth
- Plaque and tartar accumulation
- Oral cancer
- Risk of gum disease
- Stained teeth
Despite the health warnings on the media and on cigarette packages, smoking continues. Most people already understand the health implications of smoking yet find it hard to discontinue. A dentist can provide essential oral hygiene information and smoking cessation program to help combat addiction and the side effects of smoking.
How smoking damages your teeth and gums
Smoking reduces the production of saliva in the mouth and causes dry mouth. Saliva is a crucial component in the mouth because it functions as the mouth’s natural cleanser to reduce the presence of bacteria and neutralize acids that can affect the tooth enamel. It also helps to aid digestion and combats the formation of plaques and tartar, which are the major culprits of gum disease.
Also, tooth loss is a common occurrence among smokers compared to non-smokers. A study published by the National Institute of Health in the US National Library of Medicine showed that oral conditions in smokers do not respond quickly to non-surgical procedures for gum diseases, in contrast to non-smokers. If the tooth is missing, the option of a dental implant for tooth restoration is not always available for smokers because of the higher risk of failure due to poor bone-healing rates in smokers.
A healthy mouth is essential for living a healthy life, and it is only possible by quitting smoking. Several studies have proven the negative implications of smoking and using tobacco products on general well-being. Your dentist will continue to emphasize the need to quit smoking to improve your oral health.
Fortunately, taking specific steps can help you fight the urge to smoke. Your dentist can help you with a smoking cessation treatment and plan dental checkups to monitor your oral health and ensure successful quitting. This will set you back on the path of improving the health of your teeth and gums.
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