Many times when we speak about preventive dental care, we focus on the things that you should be doing:
- Brushing twice each day
- Flossing daily
- Having professional teeth cleanings
This is the foundation for good oral health. Unfortunately, you can do all of these things and still undermine your efforts. We have seen patients who have hurt their teeth and the gums by using tobacco.
The dentists at Atlanta West Dentistry want to encourage all our patients in and around Marietta to think carefully about the effects of tobacco.
If you are using now, we encourage you to make the effort to quit. We know it isn’t easy, but we believe you can do it.
Tobacco And Tooth Decay
Whether you smoke or use smokeless tobacco, here are a few things you can expect:
- Bad breath
- Discolored teeth
- Dulled sense of taste and smell
- Increased risk of cavities
Tobacco users are more likely to have plaque and tartar buildup in their mouths. Plaque is a sticky substance that keeps bacteria close to your teeth. It’s the acids produced by that bacteria that eat into your teeth that cause tooth decay.
Tartar is hardened plaque. This is more difficult to remove, which makes it easier for bacteria to harm your teeth.
And if you think smokeless tobacco is somehow less harmful, you need to think again. In addition to the various chemicals added to tobacco products, many smokeless tobacco products contain sugar.
The sugar is meant to enhance the flavor of your chew, dip, or snuff. Bacteria thrive on sugar. Holding it that close to your teeth for extended periods of time makes it easier for bacteria to grow and to attack your teeth.
Tobacco And Gum Disease
As bad as tobacco can be for your teeth, it can be just as bad or worse for your gums.
The bacteria that cause tooth decay are the same bacteria that cause gum disease. As the plaque turns into tartar, your gums are much more vulnerable to infection.
Smokers are twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Research has shown that tobacco products affect the soft tissue of your gums and actually interfere with how they normally works. This increases your risk of gum recession. That occurs when your gums pull away from your teeth.
This can lead to pocket formations inside your gums where plaque and tartar can grow in places that you can’t reach. As your gum disease progresses it can even attack the bone that holds your teeth in place.
There is another complication with tobacco use. It also harms your body’s ability to fight off infections. This makes gum disease harder to treat in tobacco users, and continued use makes it more likely that your gum disease will return.
Tobacco And Oral Cancer
Worldwide, 50 people will die as a result of tobacco use in the next hour, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation.
And tobacco is far and away the leading contributor to oral cancer in the United States. The University of California, San Francisco, conducted a study and found that 8 out of every 10 oral cancer patients was a tobacco user.
The Oral Cancer Foundation also noted that alcohol use combined with tobacco further increases your risk of developing oral cancer.
Tobacco products contain scores of known carcinogens. When you put those directly into your mouth, the consequences should not be a surprise.
Possible symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Persistent mouth sores
- Lumps in your cheeks
- Red or white patches on the soft tissues in your mouth
- Changes in your voice
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble chewing
- Difficulty moving your jaw or tongue
We Want To Help
We encourage our patients to visit our dentist office in Marietta at least twice a year so we can examine their mouths. We are looking for symptoms of tooth decay and gum disease.
And we are looking for warning signs that you could be developing oral cancer.
No one at Atlanta West Dentistry wants to find those problems, but if we do, we would much rather find them in the early stages. The sooner your problems is identified, the sooner you can start treatment. Early treatment is often the most effective.
If you would like some help quitting tobacco, start by calling 877-44U-QUIT.