It is common knowledge that cigarettes, cigars or smokeless tobacco are harmful to overall health, but many people are unaware of how smoking specifically affects oral health. According to the American Dental Association, the tar and nicotine in tobacco can lead to teeth staining, bad breath, gingivitis, leukoplakia or oral cancer. The ADA states that “gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease which causes your gums to be tender, swollen or bleed easily when flossing. Leukoplakia is a whitish thick patch on your gums, tongue or inside of your cheek, that may lead to cancer”.
Cosmetic Dental Problems from Smoking
Other oral impacts of smoking include difficulties in correcting cosmetic dental problems and dulled sense of taste and smell. It is difficult, even without smoking, to maintain good oral health. Smoking makes a difficult task of oral cleanliness even more difficult. The effect of cosmetic dental procedures is limited when the patient is a smoker. If you want the maximum benefit from dental procedures, and to avoid gingivitis, leukoplakia and oral cancer, it is necessary to avoid tobacco use. It is hard to imagine that someone would start smoking knowing these associated risks. Many people learn of the health consequences long after they are addicted.
It is not easy to quit using tobacco. The chemical nicotine, which is present in tobacco, makes it extremely difficult to quit, since it is very addicting. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Nicotine produces physical and mood-altering effects in your brain that are temporarily pleasing. These effects make you want to use tobacco and lead to dependence. At the same time, stopping tobacco use causes withdrawal symptoms, including irritability and anxiety.”
Talk with one of our cosmetic dentists at your next visit to Mesa Dental about strategies and personal tips for quitting tobacco use. The ADA recommends that you “write down your reasons for quitting. Exercising, chewing gum and keeping yourself occupied can help you quit. Talk to your dentist or doctor to see if the medications available would help you to stop using tobacco.” Every patient is unique and we will work with you to create a unique plan to quit, if you happen to have problems with tobacco products.
“Smoking and Tobacco.” American Dental Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.
“Nicotine Dependence.” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.