How Does Tobacco Use Affect Your Oral Health?

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A cigarette in his mouth that harms the health of our teeth

 

Tobacco use is one of the leading causes preventable illness and death in America and it traumatically damages your oral health. Aside from being a socially undesirable habit, smoking can result in:

 

  • Oral Cancer (oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, trachea, bronchus, lung, acute myeloid leukemia, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney and ureter, cervix, bladder, and colorectal)
  • Reducing your sense of smell and taste
  • Reproductive effects (ectopic pregnancy, premature birth, low birth weight, stillbirth, reduced fertility in women, and erectile dysfunction; and birth defects, including clept-lip and/or cleft palate)
  • Compromising recovery after surgery
  • Staining your teeth
  • An increased risk of contracting periodontal disease.
  • Lung diseases (emphysema, bronchitis, chronic airway obstruction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and pneumonia)
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • And many more diseases and health issues

 

The American Dental Association (ADA) and all dentists encourage everyone to abstain from all forms of tobacco use.

 

Almost all adult smokers have tried smoking before the age of nineteen.  In all likelihood, an individual who abstains from smoking throughout the teenage years will never pick up the habit.  Therefore, it is essential that parents strongly discourage pre-adolescent and adolescent tobacco use.

 

Is smokeless tobacco less dangerous?

 

Tobacco use in any form brings the oral region into direct contact with carcinogens (cancer causing agents).  These carcinogens and other harmful chemicals cause irreparable damage to the child’s oral health.

 

People often mistakenly evaluate smokeless tobacco as the “safer” option.  In fact, smokeless tobacco has been proven to deliver a greater concentration of harmful agents into the body, and to be far more addictive.  One snuff of tobacco has approximately the same nicotine content as sixty regular cigarettes.  In addition, smokeless tobacco causes leukoplakias in the mouth, which are dangerous precancerous lesions.

 

What are the signs of oral cancer?

 

Oral cancer can be difficult to detect without the aid of the dentist.  In some cases, oral cancer is not noticeable or even painful until its later stages.  Tobacco users must be aware of the following symptoms:

 

  • Changes in the way the teeth fit together.
  • Difficulty moving the jaw.
  • Mouth sores that don’t heal.
  • Numbness or tenderness.
  • Red or white spots on the cheek, lip, or tongue.

 

Oral cancer is treatable if caught early.  Disfiguring surgery can be avoided by abstaining from tobacco use and getting regular preventative dental check ups.

 

It’s time to quit!

 

Quitting smoking can be difficult! Here are some tips for smoking cessation:

 

  • Know your reasons for quitting (health, second hand smoke)
  • Talk to a doctor. Sometimes having a professional list the health risks can help
  • Understand what to expect and plan ahead. Some people find it helpful to get small hard candies to help with cravings (make sure they are sugar free!
  • Use a patch or nicotine gum
  • Get help! There are communities and groups to help with the process.
  • Try quitting with a friend for accountability

 

If you have questions or concerns about your tobacco use, please contact your dentist. If you have any questions or concerns about how smoking can affect your dental health, please contact First Class Dental located in Palmdale, California at (661) 383-2888.

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