Smoking has many effects on your health, including your oral health. However, many people do not realize that smoking can impact their oral health. Smokers are at a higher risk of oral diseases, including gum disease and oral cancer.
There are several negative effects of smoking on your oral and overall health, including an increased risk of gum disease. Because smoking can weaken your immune system, your body is less able to fight off the infections caused by plaque bacteria in the mouth. This increases your risk of developing gum disease, which is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. If periodontal disease is left untreated, the infection can move into the bones and can cause teeth to become loose or even lost altogether.
Additionally, smokers are more likely to develop oral cancer than those who do not smoke, but quitting can be the single best thing you can do to reduce your risk of the disease. When you quit smoking, you can reduce your risk of cancer by as much as half, so you're making a big decision for your overall health as well. Quitting also reduces the risk of developing problems such as gum recession, bad breath, and even stains forming on the teeth. All of these issues can be unsightly and embarrassing for you, and they can even affect your self-esteem and cause you to avoid social functions or activities that involve other people. By quitting, you can even help improve the health of those around you by reducing secondhand smoke and decreasing the risk of lung cancer and heart disease in your loved ones.
The best way to protect your oral health from the negative effects of smoking is to quit as soon as possible. Once you stop smoking, your risk of gum disease and tooth decay will decrease significantly. However, even if you quit smoking, you will still need to visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. These appointments allow your dentist to closely monitor your gums and teeth for signs of decay or disease.
Many anti-smoking medications can increase your chances of developing dry mouth, which can increase your risk for cavities and other oral health issues. A dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands produce less saliva than normal. Saliva helps wash away food particles and sugar from the teeth and gums so that they cannot cause damage. Without adequate saliva production, you are at a higher risk of developing tooth decay and periodontal disease. Medications like antidepressants can also cause dry mouth as a side effect. If you experience dry mouth as a side effect of medications, ask your doctor if there are other ways to treat your condition without causing further complications to your dental health.
You should also avoid consuming sugary foods and beverages that can contribute to tooth decay over time. Practice good oral hygiene by brushing at least twice a day and flossing every evening before going to bed. You can also use an antibacterial mouthwash to kill bacteria buildup in the mouth and reduce the amount of plaque and tartar buildup on the enamel.
If you want to learn more, feel free to contact our dental office today to schedule an appointment with our dentist. We're always here to help your smile stay healthy!