People in cigarette ads may have beautiful looking teeth, but real smokers don’t. We don’t have to tell you that smoking is bad for your teeth, but you probably don’t realize how horrible it really is. It not only increases your risk for gum disease and plaque that causes cavities, but smoking even inflames your saliva glands and causes other mouth problems. Smoking may be bad for your lungs, but it’s also terrible for your mouth.
Smoking and other tobacco products mess with your gums, impairing blood flow. It can lead to periodontal disease and affect how your gums attach to your jaw bone. Smoking also makes your mouth more susceptible to oral infection.
Pipes, Cigars, & Other Tobacco Just as Bad
And it’s not just cigarettes. Pipes, cigars, and chewing tobacco are just as harmful. In fact, a 23-year long study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that pipe and cigar smokers experienced tooth loss and bone loss (bone loss within the jawbone at rates equivalent to those of cigarette smokers. Pipe smokers also have a similar risk of tooth loss as cigarette smokers. Even if you don’t inhale, pipe and cigar smokers are at risk for oral and pharyngeal (throat) cancers. Add in bad breath and stained teeth, and it’s not a pretty picture.
You know candy is bad for your teeth — but it doesn’t hold a candle to cigarettes. Smoking can lead to tooth decay. It also makes restoration difficult. Because tobacco restricts blood flow, your mouth doesn’t heal properly.
The Good News — It’s Never Too Late to Kick the Habit
The good news is quitting has enormous benefits. It’s never too late to reverse the damage. In fact, 11 years after smoking, a former smoker will have similar risks to periodontal disease as someone who’s never picked up the habit.
Cutting back is also a good idea. While a pack and a half a day smoker has 6 times the risk of a non-smoker at developing periodontal disease, someone who smokes just half a pack has half the risk — 3 times what a nonsmoker has. In fact, cases of lesion leukoplakia were completely healed in people who used smokeless tobacco products just 6 weeks after quitting.
Want to Quit Smoking?
Quitting smoking can be difficult, but you can succeed with patience and support. First, you need to make the decision to quit. Set a date. Let friends and family know. You may act like a Grizzly Bear in the beginning. Not only do those you love need fair warning, but they can also provide much-needed support.
Keep in mind that nicotine is a psychological addiction as well as a physical one. Anticipate times of high risk temptation and plan for them. If you typically smoke with your first coffee, plan to have your coffee in a place you can’t smoke. If you typically smoke after a meal, take a long walk instead. Keep plenty of gum on hand to deal with oral fixations.
The lifestyle change is worth it. Your lungs will feel better. Your breath will smell nicer. Your teeth will be healthier. Your Cincinnati dentist won’t be the bad news messenger. You owe it to yourself and your teeth. You’ve got this — one day at a time