YOU’RE PROBABLY FAMILIAR with some of the ways smoking impacts our health, particularly lung cancer. However, that’s not where the damage ends. Smoking can harm every part of the body, including our oral health. And the problems don’t end with stained teeth and bad breath.
With it being Mouth Cancer Action Month we thought we could help provide some information on the effecs of smoking on your mouth. It might help motivate you to quit. Quiting smoking will help you to be feel healthier, save you money and help to protect your family.
Gum disease begins as an inflammation of the gums, which if untreated, can lead to serious damage to the gum tissue, tooth loss, and even bone loss in the jaw. It can also give bacteria access to the bloodstream, risking life-threatening infections. Smoking doubles the risk of developing gum disease by introducing hundreds of toxins into the mouth, and it also makes gum disease harder to treat.
One particularly strange effect smoking can have on oral health is that it can produce white patches on the roof of the mouth. These are stomatitis nicotina, or smoker’s keratosis. The condition is not well understood, but the white patches could be the result of inflammation of the mucous glands in the mouth. It usually isn’t painful, but it can be pre-cancerous.
Four out of every five people diagnosed with oral cancer smoke or chew tobacco. Oral cancer is cancer that affects any of the tissues in the mouth and throat. Early symptoms include unusual white patches, persistent sores or pain, difficulty chewing or swallowing, swelling, numbness, and the sensation of having something lodged in the throat. The dentist is the first line of defense against oral cancer, as many of these symptoms can be caught early during a regular dental exam.
Even people who don’t smoke can still be negatively affected by secondhand smoke. Studies suggest a link between cavities (in both baby teeth and adult teeth) and regular exposure to secondhand smoke. The dangers of secondhand smoke are particularly serious for infants and young children. They include asthma attacks, infections, and even SIDS.
It’s Never Too Late To Quit
Luckily, smoking is a very preventable cause of all these different dental problems. All we have to do is quit smoking or never pick up the habit in the first place. Even those with a long history of smoking can significantly improve their chances of avoiding health complications by quitting, so don’t think there’s nothing you can gain from it!
We’re Waiting To Help You!
There are many resources available for smokers who need help quitting. Some of the best ones are supportive friends, family, and counselors. You can also find a lot of great information on the NHS Smoke Free website or call the free Smokefree National Helpline on 0300 123 1044. As your oral health specialists we care about your overall health, not just your teeth. If you are a smoker, be sure to schedule regular dental check-ups so that your mouth can stay healthy!
Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health care professionals with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.