Smoking and Dental Problems

Dental Problems Associated with Tobacco Use

Smoking cigarette
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Most of us know that smoking is bad for our health, but did you know that smoking is also a major contributor to many dental problems? Cigarettes aren't the only products only to blame. All forms of tobacco, including cigars, smokeless tobacco and hookah water pipes, pose dental health concerns.

Dental Problems Associated with Tobacco Use

  • greatly increases the risk for oral cancer, a disease that progresses rapidly and can be deadly if not diagnosed and treated early. Oral cancer is, unfortunately, a significant killer today due to the fact that it is diagnosed very late. Regular dental checkups
    • increases the risk of gum disease, which is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults. It's thought that the bacterial load to the mouth causes an imbalance in oral bacteria that causes gum disease to progress over time.
    • (smoking in particular) can slow down healing in general in the mouth. It certainly postpones healing after oral surgery procedures, such as having a tooth extracted.
    • can damage gum tissue and cause receding gums, leaving the roots of the teeth exposed. This could increase the risk of tooth decay and cause hot/cold sensitivity due to the exposure of sensitive nerve endings that are covered by the gumline. 
    • causes stains on teeth that can't be removed with regular brushing. Smoking is one of the most common causes of teeth discoloration.
    • can cause a build up of tartar, which could require you to get more frequent dental cleanings or otherwise may further increase your risk of gingivitis or gum disease. 

      Cigarettes and Cigars

      Cigarettes and cigars contain several toxins associated with cancer. Not inhaling does not decrease your risk for dental problems which is a major misconception.

      Smokeless Tobacco

      Did you know that more nicotine is found in dip and chew than cigarettes? Smokeless tobacco products also contain the harmful toxins associated with cancer.

      According to the American Dental Association, “at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in smokeless tobacco products.”

      Hookah Water Pipes

      Hookah water pipe smoking has become popular in some areas lately. Unfortunately, the water in the pipes does not filter out all of the harmful toxins and it is unknown how these things react in the mouth.  It's thought they may be a factor in some dental diseases due to the flavoring and tobacco double hit.

      How to Quit

      Quitting smoking and / or other forms of tobacco right now can provide long-term health benefits including oral health. If you would like to quit, but don't know how, talk to your physician about how he or she can help. In addition, Terry Martin, our Guide to Smoking Cessation, offers some very helpful tips and information to help you quit smoking right here on About.com.

      Sources:

      American Dental Association. Smoking (Tobacco) Cessation 12 July 2007.

      Photo by Cezar Perelles Dental Problems Associated with Tobacco Use Most of us know that smoking is bad for our health, but did you know that smoking is also a major contributor to many dental problems?

      Cigarettes aren't the only products only to blame. All forms of tobacco, including cigars, smokeless tobacco and hookah water pipes, pose dental health concerns.

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