Chances are you have heard (more than once) the negative aspects of smoking. Not just smoking, but any use of tobacco products, such as “chew.” Most people recognize the fact that inhaling smoke does damage to the lungs. Interestingly enough, there are relatively few conversations taking place about what tobacco use can do to the mouth. We’re about to dive in.
Tobacco stains teeth
Smoking and using smokeless tobacco is associated with a certain discoloration. First, the deposits of tobacco and other chemicals in cigarettes seeps into the pores of enamel, causing teeth to become dull. Then teeth turn yellow. Over time, deposits of chemicals and tobacco cause brown stains that are difficult to remove. Furthermore, enamel breaks down under the constant effects of tobacco use. Weak enamel is more susceptible to staining, making it increasingly difficult for the smoker to mitigate the consequences of this habit.
Tobacco Use and the Gums
Oxygen is a major component that allows the blood to nourish all of the organs and tissues in the body, including the gums. Without adequate oxygenation, there is a far greater susceptibility to infection. The weakening of the gums opens the door for bacterial buildup, which exacerbates the breakdown of gingival tissue. Ultimately, infection in the gums, aka gum disease, can extend into the bone in the jaw, leading to tooth loss.
The “C” Word
Smoking and cancer go hand in hand, and not only where the lungs are concerned. Smokers are at a significantly higher risk for oral cancer due to the direct contact of carcinogenic ingredients and the soft tissues in the mouth. Research has indicated that more than three-quarters of older adults diagnosed with oral cancer were also smokers at some point.
Tobacco use isn’t dangerous primarily because of the tobacco itself. The Oral Cancer Foundation has stated that tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. SEVEN-THOUSAND! Of those, more than 70 are known carcinogens.
The best way to protect your oral health and the appearance of your smile is to stop smoking, or to never start. If you use tobacco in any form, there are several programs designed to help you stop. Your dentist is also a supportive figure in helping you mitigate the dangers of smoking.
To schedule a dental check up and cleaning in our Grayslake office, call (847) 223-5200.