It’s widely documented that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. According to the CDC nearly 40 million adults in the United States still smoke cigarettes and about 4.7 middle and high school students use at least one tobacco product, including e-cigarettes.
While many are familiar with the cancer-causing properties of tobacco and tobacco products, the impact that these products have on your overall oral health can be just as detrimental. Here are just a few ways that these products can impact your mouth and why it’s important to see a dentist regularly.
– tobacco use in general causes damage to your tooth enamel. Chewing tobacco especially has a lot of sugar in it which erodes the enamel at the tooth root and causes cavities to develop. Users of smokeless tobacco products are four times as likely to develop cavities than those who don’t use chewing tobacco or snuf. The more frequently the tobacco product is used, the higher the risk of developing this type of damage.
– Gum disease which is also known as periodontal disease is an infection that forms in the gums and if left untreated can begin to affect the bone structure of your mouth that supports your teeth. Smoking is known to be a leading cause of severe gum disease. Gum disease, if caught early enough can be treated. We recommend regularly visiting a dentist to check for the early signs of periodontal disease and to ensure early intervention if needed. Early signs of gum disease include bleeding gums, sore or swollen gums, and receding gums.
– while not one of the most severe symptoms you might experience, it can be one of the most noticeable both for you and those around you. The smell of the smoke may linger in your mouth long after you’re done. In addition, smoking dries out your mouth which is a primary cause of bad breath or halitosis. Persistent bad breath can also be a symptom of gum disease and could be a sign that you need to visit your dentist to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy.
– This symptom can be most common in those individuals who use chewing tobaccos. The location where the chew is kept can result in the development of lesions in the mouth. These lesions over time can develop into precancerous or cancerous over time. This is why regularly screening for oral cancers is important and these types of checks are good to have your dentist perform during your regularly scheduled checkups.
Addiction to tobacco and nicotine can be difficult to overcome, but working to quit can provide endless benefits to your health, both oral and general. If you’re interested in taking the first steps to quitting we recommend talking to your dentist or primary doctor for information and referrals to cessation programs.