November is Tobacco Awareness Month. Because of this, we want to focus on tobacco and your oral health. Both tobacco and nicotine can affect your overall oral health. Whether you are smoking cigarettes, cigars, or a hookah or using chewing tobacco or an e-cigarette, it is important to know that all of these things can cause oral cancer.
Statistics show that 80% of oral cancer is diagnosed in tobacco users. And, men are two times more likely to get oral cancer than women. This is why it is important to stop any and all forms of tobacco or nicotine. Vaping, smoking, and chewing tobacco exposes your oral tissues to nicotine. As we all know, nicotine significantly reduces blood flow, restricting oxygenation and nutrient-flow to the soft tissue of the mouth. With the exposure to nicotine, our blood vessels are restricted which causes a decrease in blood flow to the gums. Inflammatory proteins are released as a result, which can onset periodontal disease. When nicotine causes a decrease in blood flow, it increases the chance of infection, decay, and other oral problems, which can result in tooth loss and periodontitis.
Tobacco can cause bad breath, stained teeth, delayed healing, gum disease, and oral cancer. Tobacco hurts your teeth in many ways. Cigarettes limit your mouth’s ability to fight off infection, which leaves you defenseless against the bacteria produced by smoking. When your mouth can’t fight back, plaque and bacteria fester. This leads to problems ranging from yellowing of teeth to losing them and needing root canals. When you smoke, you short-circuit your body’s auto-immune defenses. Your body will have a hard time protecting itself which leaves you more susceptible to infection and oral cancer. That is why it is important to stop any and all forms of tobacco or nicotine use.
Here are some of the ways it can impact your oral health:
- Yellowing or browning of the teeth
- Bleeding gums
- Buildup of calculus (hardened plaque)
- Tooth decay
- Dry mouth
- A greater need for root canals
- Loss of teeth
- Damaged tooth enamel
We understand how hard it is to quit tobacco. We are here to help. Many people have tried and failed to quit smoking. It’s not a character flaw — it’s a difficult habit to end. Some people get embarrassed to come to the dentist when they smoke. They worry the hygienists and dentists will judge them for using nicotine. We don’t judge. Schedule an appointment today!