Up In Smoke: How Smoking Affects Your Oral Health

November 17th is the Great American Smokeout – an annual event designed to highlight the dangers of smoking and help smokers quit. Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and smokeless tobacco are all dangerous to your health in multiple ways.

Dry Mouth: Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth is persistent and uncomfortable. It also contributes to tooth decay, as saliva helps remineralize the teeth. Dry mouth increases wound healing time, makes soft tissues more prone to infection, and exacerbates bad breath.

Bad Breath: Even when you’re not actively puffing away, tobacco makes your breath smell bad. Bacteria are the root cause of most bad breath, also called halitosis. The waste products of bacteria’s anaerobic (airless) respiration contain the same volatile compounds that make rotting meat and eggs smell so unpleasant. Smoking increases the smell of these bacterial wastes.

Cancer: Even smokeless tobacco contributes to oral cancer rates. As it is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, oral cancer must be diagnosed early to increase rates of successful treatment. Unfortunately, many patients delay dental visits, making early detection more difficult. Tobacco use can lead to cancer of the mouth, nose, throat, head, or neck.

Slow Wound Healing: Tobacco smoke contains multiple toxic chemicals which decrease wound healing time. Nicotine reduces blood flow to soft tissues in the mouth and restricts the growth of red and white blood cells. Carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide decrease oxygen transport at the cellular level. Smokers take longer to heal following surgery and placement of dental implants.

Gum Disease: Periodontal disease has been linked to increased risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. If left untreated, periodontitis causes irreversible bone loss in teeth and jaws. Smokers can lose teeth from advanced gum disease, necessitating reconstructive appliances or surgery. Swollen, bleeding, or tender gums are signs of periodontal disease.

Quitting smoking greatly decreases your risk of developing serious adverse health conditions. Dental professionals can help with smoking cessation.  Dr. Greg Seal wants to help you keep your mouth, and your whole body, healthy for life. Call our Dallas office today at (214) 361-0883 to talk about quitting and to schedule your appointment. Dr. Seal serves patients near SMU, Love Field, Park Cities, and North Dallas.