We all know that smoking has a negative effect on a person’s health, but did you know about the oral health issues smoking can lead to?  Not only can smoking stain the teeth, but it can also lead to more serious health issues such as gum disease and oral cancer.

Oral cancer is the most serious dental health problem smoking can cause.  According to the American Cancer society, roughly 90 percent of oral cancer patients have used tobacco products in some form.  The longer a person uses tobacco, the higher his risk of oral cancer, and tobacco users face a six times higher risk of oral cancer than people who don’t smoke or chew tobacco.

Gum disease is another oral health problem that can be caused or exacerbated by smoking.  Gum disease begins as gum inflammation, and then it eventually leads to inflammation of the bone that supports the tooth roots and eventual loss of this bone structure.  When caught early, gum disease is treatable, but it can lead to tooth loss and damage to the jawbone if left untreated.  A recent study found that more than 50 percent of periodontal disease patients have smoked at some time.
When we think of tobacco use, most people think of smoking cigarettes.  The truth is that all forms of tobacco threaten oral health.  Pipe smokers are at risk for developing lip cancer, and tobacco chewers are four to six times more likely to get oral cancer than people who use no form of tobacco.  Many forms of chewing tobacco also contain sugar, the leading cause of tooth decay.

If you are a smoker, the best thing you can do for your oral (and overall) health is to quit.  The longer a person remains a non-smoker, the lower his risk becomes for developing oral cancer and gum disease.  In fact, once a person has been smoke-free for a decade, he faces the same risk for gum disease as a person who never smoked.
If you do smoke, it is very important that you undergo regular dental check-ups to screen for oral cancer and periodontal disease.  Between 40 to 50 percent of all people who are diagnosed from oral cancer die of the disease, and early diagnosis and treatment are the best ways to increase the odds of a patient’s survival.

Smokers also need to be especially careful to maintain a strong oral hygiene routine, as the heat and carcinogens in tobacco and cigarettes can cause severe damage to the teeth and gums.

The bottom line: any form of tobacco use presents a risk to oral health.  The best thing smokers and chewers can do to ensure good oral health is to quit.  If you smoke and would like to quit, talk to your physician about effective smoking cessation methods so that you can ensure a lifetime of good health and strong smiles.

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The bottom line: any form of tobacco use presents a risk to oral health.