People often associate smoking with lung issues, such as lung cancer and emphysema. Yet, people often overlook the impact this habit has on their oral health.
Our team at Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants in Gulfport, Mississippi, understands the addictive nature of tobacco and how kicking the habit isn’t easy. But, doing so can improve not just your lung health, but your oral and overall health, too.
The problem with tobacco products
Whether you inhale tobacco or use smokeless products, these substances contain more than 7,000 chemicals, ranging from nicotine and tar to carbon monoxide and acetaldehyde. Nicotine is usually what makes the product addictive.
Each time you use a tobacco product, the chemicals enter your bloodstream and get distributed throughout your body, including your brain. This process causes systemic changes, including pleasant feelings and the release of epinephrine, which provides a “rush.”
This chemical reaction in your body also leads to withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the products, which makes them so tough to quit. Physical symptoms, such as cravings and increased appetite, can even start within a few hours of the last cigarette. And, for some people, the withdrawal symptoms can persist for months afterward.
Unfortunately, the dangerous and addictive substances in tobacco products do more than cause withdrawal symptoms.
Tobacco and your smile
First, you should know that using tobacco does much more than discolor your teeth. Using any tobacco product — even smokeless tobacco — can cause serious oral health complications.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40% of American smokers ages 20-64 have untreated tooth decay. Worse yet, approximately 43% of smokers age 65 and older have lost all their teeth. Those numbers mean you’re three times more likely to lose all your teeth if you smoke than a nonsmoker.
Additional complications from using tobacco include:
- Gum recession
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Oral leukoplakia (gray or white patches in the mouth)
- Oral cancers
Plus, using tobacco also interferes with your mouth’s ability to heal after dental procedures. Furthermore, smoking can cause many other conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Protecting your oral health
As you might expect, ditching your tobacco habit is the best way to protect your oral health. The good news is there are cessation programs that can help you stop for good — even if you haven’t had success in the past.
If you use tobacco products, our team can direct you to resources to help you stop. We can also help protect your oral health moving forward, whether you’ve quit or you’re still working on it.
At Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants, our providers are highly trained in periodontal care. Our specialized training enables us to address a wide range of dental concerns, including severe decay, periodontal disease, and gum recession.
Are you concerned about how tobacco use has impacted your oral health? We can give you a thorough evaluation and design a plan to help you get your oral health back on track. To learn more, call 228-868-9615 or book an appointment online with Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants today.