Quitting tobacco is a vital step towards improving oral health and reducing associated risks.
Quitting tobacco is a vital step towards improving oral health
When we think of the harmful effects of smoking and tobacco use, we often focus on lung health. However, it’s important to recognise that these habits also have a significant impact on our oral health. From receding gums and tooth staining to gum disease and increased risk of oral cancer, tobacco use wreaks havoc on our teeth and gums. Even alternative products like vaping and e-cigarettes are not safer options. In this article, we will explore the detrimental effects of tobacco on teeth, gums, and overall oral health.
Negative effects of tobacco on teeth, gums,& overall oral health
1. Gum Tissue Damage
Tobacco use affects how gum tissue attaches to bone and impairs the function of gum tissue cells. This leads to gum recession, exposing the sensitive tooth roots and causing increased tooth sensitivity. Additionally, smokers experience slower tissue repair and decreased blood flow, making them more susceptible to mouth infections and periodontal (gum) disease.
2. Tooth and Jawbone Loss
The breakdown of relationships between gums, bone, and teeth in tobacco users results in teeth becoming loose and accelerates the loss of jawbone density. This can eventually lead to tooth loss and difficulties with chewing and speaking.
3. Oral Cancer
Both smoking and chewing tobacco significantly increase the risk of developing various types of oral cancer, including mouth, tongue, cheek, lip, gum, and esophageal cancer. Smokers have approximately a 60% higher risk than non-smokers, and the longer the duration of tobacco use, the greater the risk. Continuing tobacco use after cancer treatment increases the chances of cancer recurrence.
4. Dental Issues and Aesthetic Effects
Tobacco use manifests in several dental problems and aesthetic effects, including:
• Discoloured teeth and tongue: Smoking and chewing tobacco cause teeth to become yellow and eventually turn brown.
• Increased plaque and tartar: Tobacco use promotes plaque and tartar buildup, leading to an increased risk of cavities and gum disease.
• Leukoplakia: Patchiness within the mouth, known as leukoplakia, is a condition commonly associated with tobacco use and can be a precursor to oral cancer.
• Chronic bad breath: Smoking and tobacco use contribute to persistent bad breath.
• Complications and failures in dental procedures: Smokers have a higher failure rate for restorative dental procedures and an increased risk of complications following dental treatments.
5. Vaping and E-cigarettes
Although vaping eliminates tobacco and tar, it still poses risks to dental health. Regular vaping is associated with higher rates of cavities, gum disease, gum recession, tooth sensitivity, tooth loss, and teeth grinding. Furthermore, incidents of fires and explosions due to e-cigarette use can cause dental damage and bone fractures.
Quitting Tobacco and Dental Health
Quitting tobacco is a challenging journey, but it is crucial for improving dental health and reducing associated risks. Here are some steps that can help:
1. Seek professional help: Consult a healthcare professional who can provide guidance on quitting strategies, including nicotine replacement therapy and counselling.
2. Dental recommendations: Your dentist may suggest various interventions to support your quitting journey, such as nicotine gum, whitening toothpaste to reduce staining, and mouthwash to combat bad breath.
3. Regular checkups: Routine dental checkups are essential for identifying early signs of gum disease, mouth lesions, and any tooth or jawbone issues. Regular examinations of the tongue, throat, and cheeks help detect early signs of oral cancer.
4. Restorative and cosmetic dentistry: In severe cases of tooth discolouration, damage, or loss, your dentist may recommend cosmetic dentistry procedures to improve your smile and restore dental health.
The damaging effects of tobacco use on oral health are undeniable. From gum disease and tooth loss to oral cancer and aesthetic issues, tobacco poses a significant threat to our teeth and gums. Quitting tobacco is a vital step towards improving oral health and reducing associated risks. By seeking professional help, following dental recommendations, and maintaining regular checkups, individuals can embark on a journey toward healthier teeth, gums, and overall well-being.
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