Tobacco, whether it is smoked or chewed can have lasting negative effects on your oral health. At best, it can cause severe tooth discoloration that is hard to treat. At worst, it can cause oral cancer, an extremely aggressive and often deadly type of cancer that forms on the mouth or throat. Smoking tobacco (cigarettes) can also make you more susceptible to periodontal (gum) disease and eventually tooth loss.
It can be very difficult to remove tobacco stains from your teeth using traditional methods of bleaching/teeth whitening such as over-the-counter treatments, professional take-home whitening kits (purchased from a dentist) and professional in-office whitening treatments. Therefore, individuals with tobacco-stained teeth are many times forced to consider more expensive options such as bonding and porcelain veneers.
The facts related to oral cancer are very sobering. According to statistics posted on the Oral Cancer Foundation website, “close to 43,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 8,000 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 43,250 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years. (Approximately 57%) This is a number which has not significantly improved in decades.” This highlights the importance of getting regular oral cancer screenings from your dentist. Most dentists will screen for oral cancer on a regular basis. If you smoke, your dentist may recommend more frequent oral cancers screenings for you. Early detection is one of the best ways to fight this serious disease.
Both current and former smokers have an increased risk for developing periodontal disease and are at risk for developing more severe periodontal disease than people who have never smoked. This is because smoking causes systemic immuno-suppression and impairment of soft tissue and bone cell function. If you are a current smoker or you smoked in the past, it is vitally important for you to get regular dental checkups so your dentist can check for signs of periodontal disease such as red, swollen or bleeding gums and gums that are receding. This will enable your dentist to detect and treat gum disease when it is in the earlier stages. Early detection and treatment will help to prevent the tooth and bone loss that can occur with late-stage, untreated periodontal disease.
If you are a current smoker and are concerned about your dental health, schedule an appointment with your dentist today. If you would like to quit smoking or using tobacco products, it is a good idea to talk to your physician. Your doctor can help you find the resources you need to break this habit.
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