By Dental Dimensions
August 05, 2014
Category: Oral Health

Tobacco Use and Your Oral Health

It’s no secret that the use of tobacco products can have a significant impact on your overall health.  But have you considered the consequences it can have on your dental health?
 
Tobacco use in all forms, including smoking and chewing tobacco, can cause a number of dental health problems ranging from oral cancer (cancer of the lips, tongue, throat and mouth) to tooth loss and severe teeth staining. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 90 percent of people with oral cancer have used tobacco in some form.  Additionally, the risk of oral cancer is six times more likely among people who smoke compared to those who do not smoke.  The longer a person uses tobacco, the greater the risk. 
 
Long-term tobacco use in any form can compromise the health of your teeth and gums. Here are just some of the ways that regular use of tobacco affects oral health:
 
  • Tooth discoloration- Yellowing and severe discoloration of the teeth is one of the first visible effects of smoking. 
  • Gum disease- Smoking increases gum disease—about four times more than people who have never smoked according to the Journal of Periodontology. 
  • Tooth loss- The risk of tooth loss is much higher in smokers than in non-smokers
  • Bad breath- Because tobacco use increases the amount of bacteria in the mouth, a chronic unpleasant smell is common. 
  • Poor healing- Smoking delays healing after tooth extraction and can lead to a temporary and painful condition known as dry socket.
 
If you use tobacco, it is especially important that you learn how to perform oral cancer self-examinations. Look for:
  • Sores around the face, neck or mouth that do not heal
  • Frequent bleeding in the mouth
  • Swelling or lumps on the lips, gums or other areas of the mouth
  • White, red or dark patches on the cheeks, tongue or palate
  • Loss of feeling in any part of the mouth
 
In addition to regular oral cancer self-exams, tobacco users should also work towards kicking their habit. While easier said than done, the sooner you quit, the lower your risk for serious oral health problems.  Additionally, maintain proper oral hygiene by brushing and flossing daily, and have regular checkups with your San Jose dentist in order to verify the state of the gums and make sure oral cancer is not developing.
 
Oral cancer may be one of the deadliest forms of cancer, but it is also one of the most preventable.  Talk to Dental Dimensions about ways to stop using tobacco, and improve your dental health starting today. 

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