We all know smoking is bad. We’ve heard this over many, many years.
It’s been over 50 years since the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health warned us about Smoking and the implications to our health.
In addition to the ill effects to our overall health, smoking and tobacco use can cause multiple issues with our oral health ranging from stained teeth to oral cancer.
It also puts us in a high risk category for getting periodontal disease. (gum disease)
The effects of smoking and oral health are tied together, and can be dangerous if not monitored.
So, what do we need to know and do to protect ourselves?
The Most Serious Concern – Oral Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society the most up to date numbers on oral and oropharyngeal cancers for 2018 are that:
- 51,540 people will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer.
- An estimated 10,030 people will die because of these cancers.
When we’re talking about oral an oropharyngeal cancer we’re referring to cancer that affects the mouth, lips, tongue and throat.
There is a much higher incidence of oral cancer in older men and those that smoke or use chewing tobacco.
Long term use also puts you at higher risk, the longer you have used the greater the chance of cancers forming.
Smoking / Tobacco and Periodontal Disease
Smoking as we mentioned earlier does put you at high risk for getting periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is a disease that affects the bone and ligaments that support (holds in) our teeth.
It is the leading cause of tooth loss and according to the American Academy of Periodontology affects about half the people over the age of 30,
Smoking limits the flow of oxygen rich blood to organs and other parts of the body. (mouth included)
This reduced blood flow means that things heal more slowly, and thus inhibits the body’s ability to fight off the inflammatory factors that cause periodontal disease.
One Form Of Tobacco Is Not Better Than Another
There is a mistaken idea you might hear that one form of tobacco is better/ less harmful than another. Smoking, chewing, inhaling all have their risks.
You hear this a lot when people talk about chewing tobacco.
People who chew over smoking have a much higher chance of getting oral cancer. They also are at greater risk for decay, because a number of chewing tobaccos have sugar in them to improve taste.
The sugars fuel the bacteria that cause cavities, making the incidence of decay go way up.
Chewing tobacco also causes recession of the gum tissue, and when you lose the supporting tissue, the bone and ligaments around the teeth go with it. This is yet another factor that plays into periodontal disease.
Inhalers are no better, just because their is no smoke means nothing. It’s still delivering nicotine and affects you the same way regular smoking does when it comes to periodontal disease.
When you get right down to it, all forms of tobacco puts you at risk, Pay no attention when someone tells you one form is safe/safer than another.
Dealing With The Biggest Risk Factor
The biggest factor is obvious, just add oral cancer to the long list of why you need to stop smoking. The ill effects that smoking has on the oral cavity and throat significantly drop once you stop.
I know this is easier said than done. Although I’ve never been a smoker myself, I’ve seen what it has done to family, friends and patients of mine and how hard it is for them to break free.
I’ve seen many people stop for many months, some years. I even know one person who went back to smoking after 10 years. It literally started with a cigarette or two and quickly worked back into a two pack a day habit.
I know how addictive this is!!!
So, when I say stop smoking, I don’t say that lightly, knowing that it’s a monster thing to tackle for a smoker.
Nicotine is one of the most addictive things going, their is not only a physical addiction but a physiological component as well. The ritual of how people partake of cigarettes is as big a part as having the nicotine.
The reasons people smoke and use tobacco runs deep, regardless of that, I urge you to make the choice to stop, because sooner or later, whether you choose or an illness does, the choice will be made for many of you.
Do it while your still healthy!!!!
More Things To Lower Your Risks
Visit your dentist and get regular check ups.
Early detection is huge, the earlier you discover that their is a problem the better the chance of a good outcome after you have received the treatment you need.
The Bottom Line
I wish it could be said that doing everything above would eliminate all risk 100%, but so many other things also come into play:
Other risk factors include age, radiation exposure, chemicals, some viruses and bacteria, hormones, genetics, alcohol, poor diet, lack of physical activity, and being overweight. This is not even an exhausted list.
Each person’s body reacts uniquely with what they come in contact with.
The Effects Of Smoking And Oral Health are well documented, it’s my hope that you are aware of the major issues and have a good idea on how to combat them.
In addition to everything else we have discussed it a good idea to be aware of what’s going on in your mouth. Take a look in their regularly and don’t ignore something your not sure of, especially if you don’t visit your local dentist regularly.
Most of the things people tell me they notice in their mouth wind up being “no big deal”. When your in for your regular check up it’s the perfect time to have it looked at and confirm that it’s nothing.
Don’t be embarrassed about bringing up whatever it is to your dentist or hygienist, it one of the reasons we’re their for you.
I always welcome your comments and questions.
To your health!