Smoking is not only linked to lung cancer and heart disease, but it also damages the state of the mouth. Smoking increases the risks of tooth loss, but more importantly, it is the main cause of throat and oral cancers. In fact, smoking sets off 75% of all cancers of the mouth.
Smoking and overall health
Here are some facts of how smoking affects someone’s health:
- Smokers have an increased risk of heart disease (including stroke, chest pain and palpitations), cancer and emphysema. In fact, emphysema is found almost exclusively in smokers, and 35% of all cancers are from smoking.
- 95% of those who die from lung cancer are smokers. Lung cancer is killing more women than breast cancer, and cervical cancer in smokers is increased 8 to 17 times because of the increased concentration of nicotine on the cervical mucus.
- No amount of smoking is free of risk. The exact amount of risk depends on how long someone has smoked and how deeply were the inhale, as well as genetic factors.
- Tobacco smoking reduces the effectiveness of medications, such as pain relievers, antidepressants, tranquilizers, sedatives, ulcer medication and insulin.
- Smoking destroys certain vitamins and creates the need for other specific nutrients.
- With every puff of cigarette a person breathes in 4,700 different chemicals.
- Smokers are 4 times more likely to have gray hair and increased hair loss.
- More than 90% of all regular smokers began using tobacco at or before age 18.
- People who smoke are more likely to have sinusitis.
Smoking and oral health
Although smoking and chewing tobacco does not increase the risk of having cavities, it can do lots of damage to the gums and other parts of the mouth:
- The risk of tooth loss in smokers is twice more than in non-smokers.
- Smoking is the main cause of throat and oral cancers.
- Smoking increases periodontal disease (gum disease). In fact, according to the Journal of Periodontology, smokers are about four times more likely than people who have never smoked, to have advanced periodontal disease.
- Smoking can cause inflammation of the salivary glands.
- Smoking delays healing after tooth extraction and can lead to a temporary and painful condition known as dry socket.
- Smokers have less success with periodontal treatments and dental implants.
Besides the significant and dangerous hazards mentioned above, other factors that smokers should consider include:
- Smoking is a major source of halitosis (bad breath).
- The loss of taste and smell can be caused by smoking and chewing tobacco.
- Smoking stains teeth reducing the aesthetics of a smile.
- Tobacco use can cause black hairy tongue, which refers to growths on the tongue, making it look hairy and turning it yellow, green, brown or black.
- Smoking might produce constant plaque and tartar build up.
Recommendations for smokers
To say “stop smoking” is an easier thing said than done. Nicotine addiction can be very strong and hard to lose, that is why tobacco companies are so successful with their products. But to stop smoking is also the most effective way to eliminate all the hazards that tobacco can cause, not only to oral health, but also to increase the chances of living a long and healthy life with the people we love.
Here some tips for smokers concerning their oral health:
- Although it’s easier said than done, stop smoking or stop chewing tobacco!
- Have regular checkups with the dentist in order to verify the state of the gums and make sure no oral cancer is developing.
- Maintain a thorough oral hygiene plan by regularly brushing, flossing, using mouthwash and tongue cleaner, and by having regular professional cleanings at the dentist’s office.
- Learn how to do an oral cancer self examination:
- Check for any sores around the face, neck or mouth that do not heal within two weeks.
- Check for frequent bleeding in the mouth.
- Check for white, red or dark patches on the cheeks, palate, tongue, or under the tongue; if such lesions do not disappear after two weeks, have them checked by a dentist.
- Check for swellings, lumps or bumps on the lips, gums, or other areas in the mouth.
- Notice any numbness, pain or loss of feeling in any area of the mouth.
It is evoked that the fresh clean feeling a person feels in the mouth after brushing and flossing may restrain the urge of smoking. Ironically, these simple tips also help to prevent periodontal diseases.
- Medical News Today (www.medicalnewstoday.com).
- Health News, More Natural Health (www.healthnews.com).
- Family Gentle Dental Care (www.dentalgentlecare.com).
The information above should be used as a reference only. Any medical decision should not be taken before consulting a health care professional.
The masculine gender may have been more used in the article, but without prejudice, to make reading easier.
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