The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 42.1 million people, or 18.1 percent of all adults (aged 18 years or older), smoke cigarettes in the United States. We know smoking causes many types of cancer, heart disease, aneurysms, bronchitis, emphysema and stroke. It can also agitate existing health issues like pneumonia and asthma, cause wounds to take longer to heal, and potentially disrupt the immune system. But numerous smoking side effects can influence your mouth's health as well. Consider the following in the process of extinguishing this habit for good.
Oral Health Side Effects
Smoking's effect on oral health includes bad breath, stained teeth and tongue, and a dulled sense of taste and smell, according to the American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy site. Because the immune system is affected, however, smokers often have weaker defenses against infections like gum disease. They may also experience slower healing times after tooth extraction or other surgical procedures.
Oral cancer is another huge consideration, and it can spread to the lips, tongue, mouth and throat as long as tobacco is consumed. Salivary glands and tonsils are common sites of oral cancer.
With respect to common irritation, smokers generally have more oral health problems than non-smokers, including mouth sores and ulcers. Cavities and tooth loss are also more likely to occur, as cigarettes continue to prevent the body from fending off plaque and tarter that can build up on your teeth.
Although it may be tempting to quit smoking cold turkey, quitting can be challenging. Because of the addictive ingredients in tobacco products, there are methods to help you stop using tobacco over time, and for good. In addition to a nicotine patch, gum or electronic cigarette, consider cutting back on sugary foods that feed the bacteria cigarettes already make it harder to fight against. Talk with your dentist and physician about treatment plans you can put into effect to help you overcome this habit and keep the smoking side effects from damaging your teeth.
Once you've made initial steps toward trying to quit, it is vastly important to improve your oral hygiene with regular brushing and flossing. Try using a toothpaste such as Colgate Total® Advanced Whitening to improve your daily removal of plaque and stains. Plus, a whiter smile and mintier breath only makes you more motivated to stay clean.
Alongside a new oral care routine, it is strongly advised for smokers to get a professional cleaning, which follows the removal of plaque and tartar with a thorough polishing that is conducted by the dental hygienist. Without quitting smoking, of course, cleaning and stain removal only has a temporary effect. By quitting smoking, you're giving your overall health and smile a fresh start.
About the author: Diana Tosuni-O'Neill is a licensed registered dental hygienist in New York and New Jersey with over 25 years of clinical experience in dental hygiene practice. She was employed for over 15 years with the team dentist for the sports teams the New York Giants, the Brooklyn Nets and the New Jersey Devils. Diana is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and a Group Fitness Instructor. Her passion for the dental and fitness fields spans over two decades. She is also a freelance writer specializing in oral health care. She enjoys traveling, gardening, decorating and her fitness workouts. Diana presently resides outside Manhattan with her two children.