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Effects of Tobacco on Oral Health

You know smoking is bad for your health, so it should be no surprise that cigarettes and chewing tobacco are also harmful to your oral health.

In addition to several other chronic diseases, tobacco use is a primary cause of many oral diseases and adverse oral conditions.

The epidemic of tobacco use is one of the greatest threats to global health today.

Tobacco is a risk factor for oral cancer, periodontal disease, and congenital defects in children whose mothers smoke during pregnancy.

There is overwhelming evidence showing that tobacco use causes many diseases, including stroke, heart attack, chronic bronchitis, chronic cough, asthma, cold, and cancer of the lungs, throat, mouth, stomach, kidney and bladder.

Most people are now aware that smoking is bad for their health. It can cause many different medical problems and, in some cases, fatal diseases. However, many people don’t realize the damage that smoking does to their mouth, gums and teeth.

There is a clear link between oral diseases and tobacco use. The effects of tobacco use on the population’s oral health are alarming.

Cigarettes contain over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer.

As you inhale, the smoke lingers in your mouth before you exhale.

Smoking directly affects your oral health because it, reduces blood flow to your gums, reduces the vitamin C levels needed to keep gums healthy, and raises the temperature in the mouth which causes damage to important cells.

No tobacco is safe. Any form of tobacco (smoking, smokeless or chewing) can cause serious health problems.

Both smoking and chewing tobacco have serious risks, including oral cancer, gum disease, poor/delayed healing tooth extractions and surgery in the mouth, bad breath, stained teeth and tongue, a dulled sense of taste and smell receding gums, and tooth decay.

Smokers have a lowered resistance to infections and have impaired healing.

People who smoke are more likely to develop a poorly healing tooth socket after a tooth extraction, which is very painful.

One of the effects of smoking is staining on the teeth due to the nicotine and tar in the tobacco. It can make your teeth yellow in a very short time and almost brown after years of smoking in heavy smokers.

Smoking can also lead to gum disease. People who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque, which leads to gum disease. They are also at a higher risk of developing acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, a very painful condition of the gum, which smells and tastes terrible.

The gums are affected because smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, due to which the infected gums don’t heal.

Smokers typically do not have bleeding gums as they have poor blood supply to the gums, so their gum disease is often masked which leading to tooth loss in adults.

Also, the more cigarettes smoked, the worse the gum disease. Smokers do not respond as well to gum treatment as non-smokers.

Most people know that smoking can cause lung and throat cancer, but many people still don’t know that it is one of the main causes of mouth cancer too.

Every year thousands of people die from mouth cancer brought on by smoking.

Thus diligent counseling by dentists is being done both in dental clinics in Delhi and dental clinics in India.

Smokeless tobacco is just as bad for you as smoking. In fact, chewing tobacco allows the harmful chemicals and substances to stay in your mouth longer and come into direct contact with your teeth and gums. This causes rapid tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer.

Smokeless tobacco users are up to 50 times more likely to develop oral cancer, especially in areas where chewing tobacco is held in your mouth.

Some forms of smokeless tobacco raise heart rate and blood pressure. This can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco also causes prolonged bad breath. Tar, nicotine, and other harmful substances remain in your mouth every time you inhale cigarette smoke or put a pinch of tobacco between your cheek and gums.

Smoking also dries out the mouth. Due to decreased level of saliva in the mouth, bacteria does not get rinsed away naturally, thus causing bad breath and oftentimes tooth decay.

Stopping smoking reduces the risk of developing gum disease and oral cancer, and improves the person’s response to gum treatment.

It is very important for smokers to visit their dentists regularly to keep their teeth and gums healthy and have regular oral cancer checks.

How does tobacco affect my oral health?

  • All tobacco products are abrasive to teeth. When mixed with saliva and chewed, an abrasive paste is created that wears down teeth over time which can also lead to tooth sensitivity.
  • The damage to your mouth from tobacco includes reduced blood flow, increased bacteria and inflammation. Surrounding teeth and jawbone can become weak due to infection or decay which may not strong enough to support the teeth.
  • Tobacco affects your immune system’s function, so if you are a smoker being treated for gum disease, it might be more of a struggle to fight the problems associated with gum disease. Smoking also limits the growth of blood vessels, slowing the healing of gum tissue after any surgery in the mouth.
  • Tobacco can also be a risk factor for cancer of the voice box, esophagus, colon and bladder because toxins in the juice created by chewing can be swallowed.

Dentists in India stimulate their smoking patients into quitting by educating them about the actual effects of tobacco in the mouth.

Smoking cessation improves the health and wellbeing of patients and also improves the outcomes of certain dental treatments.

If you’re a smoker, work with both your medical doctor and your dentist to find the method that will help you quit for good.

Your dentist will carry out a regular examination to make sure that your teeth and gums and whole mouth are healthy.

Your dental team will also examine your cheeks, tongue and throat for any signs of other conditions that may need more investigation.

Dentists in Delhi counsel their patients on the dangers of smoking and importance of quitting which is one of the most cost-effective methods of reducing smoking.

Quitting is the only way to decrease your risk other tobacco-related health problems. It lowers your risk of a heart attack, stroke, or cancer, including oral cancer.

It’s not uncommon for smokers to try and quit several times before succeeding.

It is important that you visit your dental team regularly for a normal check-up and a full mouth examination so that any other conditions can be spotted early.

Posted by- Dr Shriya