Tobacco—Wanted for Crimes Against Your Smile

Cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco are bad news for your smile.  Most people are aware that tobacco products cause various types of cancer.  But many people don’t realize that tobacco products are also linked to additional ailments that afflict the dental region, which includes the teeth, throat, tongue, and gums.

Smoking cigarettes is the number one preventable cause of both heart disease and cancer.  It’s also been linked to cardiovascular diseases such as asthma and cancer.

The Surgeon General and private organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association have done an effective job publicizing the ways smoking damages these two major organs, but how many people know that smoking is also the leading preventable cause of gum disease.  Too bad we don’t have an American Gum Association to inform us about this issue.

Smoking and Oral Health

Smoking damages tissue and organs throughout your body.  It’s been scientifically linked to all the following maladies:

  • bad breath
  • gum disease
  • dulled sense of taste and smell
  • diminished bone matter in jaw
  • additional buildup of plaque and tartar on teeth
  • oral cancer
  • stained teeth
  • delays in healing after oral surgery
  • tooth loss
  • dry mouth

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is caused by bacteria that grows in the plaque and tartar on your teeth.  Plaque is the filmy substance that forms on your teeth after a meal.  If plaque is not promptly removed through brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar, the rough substance that is scraped off teeth by your dental hygienist during cleaning. Effects of gum disease include the following:

  • pain while brushing
  • sore, sensitive, swollen, and bleeding gums
  • loose teeth
  • bad breath
  • receding gums “pull away from” teeth leaving noticeable gaps
  • teeth fall out

Smoking Advances Gum Disease

Gum disease afflicts “47.2 percent” of Americans over the age of 30.  That adds up to “64.7 million American adults.”  And smoking exacerbates gum disease by weakening your immune system. In fact, smokers are 64.2 percent more likely to contract gum disease than non-smokers. Furthermore, over 40 percent of all gum disease in the United States has been attributed to smoking.  In fact, smoking is the largest single preventable cause of gum disease.

The Hazards of Cigars and Smokeless Tobacco

Like cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco are significant threats to your smile.  In addition to promoting gum disease, cigars cause stained teeth, gum disease, and oral cancer.

Smokeless tobacco, which is often referred to as dip or chewing tobacco, damages your smile in numerous ways.  Smokeless tobacco causes gum disease and it has been proven to cause several types of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, tongue, lips and pancreas.  Additional research also suggests a link between smokeless tobacco and cancers of the esophagus, larynx, colon, and bladder.

Help for People Who Want to Quit Smoking

We realize that it’s extremely difficult to stop smoking. In fact, we have many patients who tell us that they’ve been trying to quit for years without success.  If you are someone who wants to stop smoking, please contact the American Lung Association.  They will provide you with resources to help you kick the habit for good.

Schedule a Checkup with Your Dentist in Florence Today

Avoiding all tobacco products is a good way to protect your smile.  Another great thing you can do to promote the health and longevity of your smile is to visit your dentist in Florence for regular checkups.  Don’t you think it’s time to schedule an appointment for a checkup with Dr. Griffin today?


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