By now, the ill effects of tobacco are well documented. It has been linked to such major health concerns as lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory illnesses such as COPD. At this point, it seems that there are few health problems for which smoking is NOT listed as a risk factor, so it should come as no surprise that the habit of smoking can lead to some serious damage to the teeth, gums, and overall oral health as well. Yellowing of the teeth and bad breath may be the most recognizable association, but these are just the beginning of dental health concerns for tobacco users.
Smoking Increases the Risk of Cavities and Gum Recession
Smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to experience cavities in their teeth or recession of the gums, which can lead to decay and tooth loss. In fact, smokers are far more likely to require root canals and fillings than people who choose to be tobacco free.
Smoking Increases the Risk of Gum Disease
Smokers are twice as likely as others to develop forms periodontal disease, or gum disease, such as gingivitis, which can break down bone and tissue, lead to the loss of teeth, and has been associated with other major health concerns like heart disease. These patients may also not respond to gum disease treatments as well as non-smokers.
Smoking Reduces the Ability to Fight Infection
Smoking works against your body’s natural ability to fight off infection and weakens the immune system. This means that smokers are more likely to get sick than others. It also means that they have a more difficult time recovering from illness and treatments necessary for other smoking-related illnesses can be exceptionally difficult.
Smoking Increases the Risk of Mouth Cancers
While lung cancer is most commonly associated with smoking, it is far from the only one. Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco greatly increase a person’s risk of developing cancer in the mouth, tongue, and cheek.
There are several other health concerns in addition to these regarding smoking and tobacco use. If you would like more information, visit the surgeon general’s website to see other health risks involved with tobacco usage.
Monitoring and maintaining oral health is important for everyone but particularly for those who use tobacco. If you use cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, schedule an appointment with Dr. Russo-Mounger to evaluate the current state of your oral health. Then, keep up with recommended follow-ups to ensure than any issues are caught and addressed as quickly as possible. While quitting is the best way to protect your health, remaining vigilant in your dental care is also a vital component.