It’s a known fact that smoking and tobacco are bad for overall health. Every time an individual decides to smoke, real damage is being done to the body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general. It also causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States and causes roughly 90 percent of lung cancer deaths. In addition, smoking is the number one cause of preventable diseases and death in the U.S. Since smoking and tobacco are proven to harm every organ of the body, there should be no surprise that they also are very harmful to oral health.
Oral Health Effects of Tobacco & Smoking
Stained teeth and tongue, bad breath and loss of smell and taste are just the beginning when it comes to a smoker’s oral health problems. The tar in cigarettes stains teeth, discolors the tongue and leads to halitosis, also known as bad breath. These side effects are minimal compared to the more detrimental effects listed below.
Weakened Immune System
Smoking weakens the body’s infection fighters, known as the immune system. This weakening causes the immune system to be compromised. When the immune system is compromised, the body is unable to fight against oral diseases and takes longer to recover from dental surgical procedures, such as tooth extractions.
Gum and Periodontal Disease
Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue, can destroy the bone that supports the teeth and cause teeth to loosen or lead to tooth loss. According to the CDC, those that smoke are twice as likely to experience gum disease.
Tooth Decay & Loss
Tooth decay and tooth loss occur with smokers because smoking supports the build-up of plaque and tartar. Also, because smoking causes the immune system to weaken, the body is unable to fight off the build-up of bacteria. The build-up of bacteria, plaque and tartar leads to cavities, decay and tooth loss.
Mouth Sores & Ulcers
Mouth sores and ulcers are common; however, they are more common with individuals that smoke. Ulcers, also known as canker sores, are painful sores that appear on the inside of the mouth and are usually red or yellow.
Those who smoke are known to develop gum disease which in turn causes receding gums. Receding gums is when the gums recede or pull away from the teeth. This in turn causes pockets or gaps to form between the teeth and gum line which makes it easier for disease-causing bacteria to build up.
Cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco contain harmful chemicals that cause mutations in the healthy cells of the mouth and throat, increasing the risk of developing oral cancer. Oral cancer is the most serious side effect of smoking and tobacco use. Oral cancer are cancers that effect the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses, and pharynx (the throat). Oral cancer is part of a group of cancers commonly referred to as head and neck cancers, and of all head and neck cancers, they comprise about 85 percent of that category. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, close to 54,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 9,750 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 54,000 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years – approximately 57 percent.
World No Tobacco Day – Monday, May 31
World No Tobacco Day is a day focused on informing the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, the World Health Organization (WHO) initiatives in fighting the tobacco epidemic, and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations. This year, the theme for World No Tobacco Day is “Commit to Quit.” Commit to quit today and sign the pledge.
There is no better time than the present to commit to stop smoking. When an individual quits, the body begins to heal itself and reverse the side effects of smoking. Oral health and overall health begin to improve.
If you or someone you know wants to quit, but needs help, visit waytoquit.org. Way to Quit provides free and confidential tools to quit nicotine, available 24/7 and proven to help you succeed. Quit online, by phone or text, or create a quit plan customized just for you.
If you do smoke, it is imperative to visit your dentist regularly. Schedule an appointment today with Roseman Dental.