When talking with patients at our Basalt dentist office about good oral health maintenance, we often focus on the importance of brushing, flossing, proper diet and regular cleanings and exams. However, there is another behavior that can have a significant impact on the condition of your teeth, gums and tongue: cigarette smoking. The Centers for Disease Control says that the percentage of adult smokers in the U.S. has fallen in the last decade. However, there are still approximately 36 million of them or roughly 15 percent of the population.
Oral Health Issues Caused by Smoking
Smoking causes a number of oral health problems, in part because it limits your mouth’s ability to properly manage the bacteria naturally found there. Here are some of the consequences we have seen at our Basalt dentist office:
- Bad breath. Not only do particles from cigarette smoke stay in your mouth long after you’ve finished a cigarette, the bacteria that are attacking your tissues cause sores, gingivitis and decay that have their own unpleasant odor. And, unfortunately, chewing a piece of gum or doing a quick rinse with mouthwash does nothing to address the source of the smell.
- Gum disease. As noted above, smokers are more likely to develop gum disease since their mouths can’t fight bacteria effectively. And the more you smoke, the greater the risk of gum disease. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to problems with the gums and underlying bone structure that result in tooth loss.
- Slow healing. Smoking decreases your mouth’s ability to recover from things like disease or surgery. This is especially problematic if tooth extractions, implants or gum surgery are required.
- Tooth discoloration. Not the biggest of the problems caused by smoking, the yellowing of teeth is nevertheless an issue that causes embarrassment and social discomfort to many smokers. Teeth whitening products or treatments can help with this, but as long as a person continues smoking, it will be difficult to maintain a bright, white smile.
- Oral cancer. The most serious impact that smoking can have on your mouth is oral cancer. The Oral Cancer Foundation says that nearly 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year. Not all of those cases are the result of smoking, but many are.
Take Steps to Prevent Oral Cancer
Obviously, one of the best things you can do to help prevent oral cancer is to stop smoking. However, brushing, flossing, avoiding sugar and acidic foods and beverages and seeing your dentist regularly also help. To make an appointment with Dr. Steinbach or Dr. Van Gorden at our Basalt dentist office, please call 970-279-5647 or connect with us online at elevatewillits.com.
We’ve proudly provided comprehensive dental care to Basalt, Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and surrounding Colorado areas for 25 years.