You have all heard it before: smoking is bad for you. It has been well documented that smoking leads to lung cancer, emphysema, high blood pressure and a host of other health problems. What you may not realize is what smoking does to your mouth!
Smokers have altered sensation to smell and taste, as well as bad breath and dramatic staining of their teeth. In addition, smokers have a much higher rate of periodontal disease and oral cancer.
Periodontal Disease – also known as gum disease – begins with simple plaque that forms on your teeth and along your gumline. Bacteria grow in this plaque, destroying tissue and eventually the bone that holds your teeth in place, leading to tooth loss. Bleeding gums during brushing or flossing is an early indication of periodontal disease.
Smoking can increase the severity of periodontal disease and encourage it to progress more quickly than in nonsmokers, even when it has been treated. Continued smoking hinders treatment, interfering with our bodies’ natural abilities to fight disease.
Oral Cancer Screenings
Cigarettes and other tobacco products have over 60 known carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals). It’s not surprising that 75% of all oral cancer is caused by these tobacco products. Cigarette and other tobacco smoke from cigars or pipes can lead to cancer anywhere in the mouth or the throat. Other cancers caused by smoking include that of the larynx, lungs, kidney, bladder, and esophagus. Around 90% of those diagnosed with some kind of mouth or throat cancer have used tobacco.
Dr. Beck does a thorough oral cancer exam for every new patient and annually for all existing patients. If caught early, many oral cancers can be effectively treated.
The good news is that quitting the smoking habit now will help your dental health for years to come. This, along with regular dental visits and treatment for your specific needs, will help you keep your teeth and gums healthy.
If you are interested in quitting smoking, Dr. Beck and his staff at South Waterfront Dental will be more than happy to assist you. You can also visit www.smokefree.gov for more information about smoking cessation.