Smoking affects your oral health and can have devastating consequences
Times have certainly changed. We are no longer faced on a daily basis with adverts suggesting that ‘X’ brand of cigarettes will make you look cool, feel good, make you popular etc etc. Indeed, the opposite is largely true now and it isn’t possible to smoke in public places indoors. Despite this and the ever increasing cost of cigarettes, there are still a lot of people who smoke in the UK; somewhere in the region of six and half million. That is still a lot of people who are damaging their health on a daily basis.
We have all heard about lung cancer and other health problems that are more likely in smokers, but did you know that smoking also negatively impacts your oral health in a number of ways. Your popular Ipswich dentists have compiled a list below of some of the main impacts that smoking can have on your oral health.
Let us start with the big one. Smoking can kill you and not only from lung cancer and heart disease. Smokers are at a much higher risk of oral cancer than any other group. This is largely due to carcinogenic chemicals that are used in tobacco. This, combined with the general irritation caused by tobacco smoke greatly increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat and neck. It is important that you maintain six monthly visits for a check up at the Foxhall Dental Practice. During this examination, we not only check your teeth and gums but also look for any possible signs of oral cancer, such as unusual lumps or sore patches which can’t be otherwise explained. If we do see these, we will refer you to your GP for further investigation. It should be noted that there may be other causes of these symptoms so you shouldn’t panic, but you should see your GP, just in case.
Gum disease is another problem that smokers are more likely to incur than the rest of us. The irritating smoke doesn’t help with this but the two main reasons are that smoking dries the mouth, allowing for an increase in bacteria that can be harmful. It also narrows the blood vessels in the gums and slows down oxygen that would normally help to fight off infections. Because of this, you are more likely to suffer from gingivitis or periodontitis if you smoke. While gingivitis can usually be treated or at least managed, periodontitis treatment is not guaranteed to succeed and you may end up with loose wobbly teeth or may even lose some due to your smoking.
A lesser evil, but one, nonetheless, which can have a negative impact on your life. Stained teeth may not be a threat to your health but they can marr what might be a really nice smile otherwise. Badly stained teeth, as is often the case with smokers, can cause a loss in confidence about smiling and may even cause some people to avoid socialising because of the colour of their teeth.
Taking the first steps
If you do smoke, the best thing that you can do is to stop now … right now. If this is something you have tried before and failed at, there are many organisations and help groups that can help you to quit and you should take advantage of these. You can also make an appointment to see your GP who may be able to help. If you do continue to smoke, you are greatly increasing the risk of damage to your oral health.
If you are in the process of stopping (and this also applies to smokers in general), there are a few things that you should do to help. The most obvious of these is to, at the very least, cut down on how much you smoke, but other things can help too.
As dehydration is a problem for smokers, make sure that you drink plenty of water. This will help you to fight off gum infections by keeping your mouth moist and helping to reduce the number of potentially harmful bacteria present.
You should also brush and floss your teeth well, paying special attention to the gum line where bacteria is prone to collect. If you don’t use dental floss at the moment, you should add this to your daily teeth cleaning regime.
Most importantly, you should see your Ipswich dentist and dental hygienist on a regular basis. Not only will this enable us to monitor your overall oral health but will help to keep your mouth clean and remove hardened bacteria known as tartar. Your hygienist might suggest more regular appointments due to the fact that the mouth of a smoker is less healthy than in those who don’t. Most hygienist appointments are at six monthly intervals, but this long time span could create problems for those with unhealthy mouths so you may need to visit more often to have your teeth and gums professionally cleaned.
If you have already managed to quit but still have stained teeth, we can help you to have a whiter smile again either with our popular teeth whitening treatment or porcelain dental veneers.
It is now harder to find places to smoke and is more expensive than it used to be. There has never been a better time to quit and, for the reasons mentioned above, you should take steps to do so. We can help by monitoring your oral health and helping to keep your mouth as clean as possible. To arrange your appointment with the dentist or hygienist at the Foxhall Dental Practice, please give us a call today on 01473 258396.