Everyone knows smoking is a bad habit. In addition to lung cancer, as well as many other types of cancers, smoking also causes people to develop asthma and is expensive. But there’s another side effect of smoking that many people don’t think about: oral problems.
Smoking can cause mouth cancer, which is cancer of the soft tissues in the mouth. If not caught in time this cancer is quite deadly and spreads quickly.
Smoking constricts blood flow in your mouth, which creates a dry environment that’s perfect for bacteria to grow in. This, in turn, increases the rate of decay and results in cavities and ultimately gum disease. When left untreated gum disease is commonly characterized by a persistent infection of the soft tissues, tooth loss, and bone loss. It’s irreversible, expensive to treat, and embarrassing to those who suffer from it.
- Gives you bad breath
- Makes it harder for you to heal from surgeries or injuries to the mouth because of the decrease in blood flow
- Stains your teeth
- Increases tartar and plaque build-up
But why exactly does smoking cause these problems?
Smoking reduces your body’s ability to fight off infection by limiting its auto-immune defenses. Because of this bacteria can multiply faster and you’ll experience decay much faster than you might if you didn’t smoke.
Additionally, the poor circulation caused by smoking means your body can’t heal itself by delivering blood as efficiently to where it needs to go.
And, smoking often results in damage to your enamel and gums, which makes them even more prone to decay.
A survey from the CDC asked the question “Does oral health status compared with others the same age differ by smoking status for dentate adults aged 18–64?”
Here are the results:
Among adults aged 18–64, current smokers were less likely than either former smokers or never smokers to evaluate their oral health status as better than others the same age.
Current smokers (30%) were almost twice as likely as former smokers (17%) and almost three times as likely as never smokers (11%) to evaluate their oral health status as not as good as others the same age.
Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but you’ll find it to be well worth it when you consider the health and financial risks. Many people find that joining a support group helps to make a difference. If you need help quitting smoking we encourage you to join a smoking cessation program and contact us about getting your health back on track. We can provide tips on how to care for your mouth, review your brushing and flossing routine, and give you a deep cleaning so your teeth have a fresh start.