Most people know about the warning label that is printed on every package of cigarettes, but when they see that label, they are likely thinking about smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer and emphysema. What a lot of people don’t know is that smoking and other tobacco use can actually make people more prone to gum disease, which in turn can lead to tooth loss.
Let’s go over some of the issues concerning oral health and tobacco use.
Oral Health Problems Connected to Tobacco Use
Studies show that when gum disease develops in smokers, it tends to worsen more quickly than in nonsmokers. Gum disease, which is a bacterial infection, can destroy the soft tissue in the mouth as well as the bone. Once gum infection is present, it can get worse, ultimately causing gum tissue to break down and pull away from the teeth. What is left is a formation referred to as “pockets.”
Gum disease treatment is more difficult in smokers because smoking works against the healing process, even impacting the way the gums react to treatment. It is believed that the chemicals found in tobacco are the reason for this. Cigar and pipe smokers, as well as those who chew tobacco, are at the same risk for gum disease. In addition, oral cancer and tooth loss are threats against oral health as well.
If you are a smoker who has already suffered tooth loss and had missing teeth replaced with dental implants, smoking increases the risk that the implants will not be successful.
Cancer Linked to Tobacco Use
The statistics are grim: The American Cancer Society reports that smokers are as much as six times more likely than non-tobacco users to develop mouth and throat cancers, as well as cancers of the lips, cheek, and gums. This is in addition to other cancers, such as those of the lungs, larynx, esophagus, bladder, and kidneys.
The good news is that as soon as users stop using tobacco products, their risks for these problems can decrease right away. It’s certainly worth it to protect your oral and your overall health!
For more information on oral health and tobacco, as well as how tobacco can impact the health of your gums, call Dr. Nicholas Ravon for an appointment!