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May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, and here at Smiles First Dental in Northmead, we are using the World Health Organization’s observation of the day as an opportunity to educate our community on how detrimental tobacco products of any kind can be to dental health.
There is an overload of information that shows the dangers of tobacco use and how it can lead to substantial oral and overall health issues.
Unfortunately, the adverse oral health effects of using tobacco are often overlooked and sometimes unknown to tobacco users.
This is a case in which what you don’t know actually can hurt you!
Let’s take a look at the oral threat posed by tobacco use.
How Does Smoking Damage My Dental Health?
Smoking leads to dental problems, including:
- Bad breath can be caused by the smoke itself or the damage done to gums by smoking
- Tooth discolouration and discolouration of dental restorations (implants, crowns, etc.)
- Increased build-up of plaque and tartar on teeth that leads to decay and cavities.
- Heightened risk of gum disease
- Inflammation of the openings of the salivary glands on the roof of the mouth
- Heightened loss of bone within the jaw, leading to lost teeth and the appearance of a ‘sagging’ and aging face
- Increased risk of leukoplakia, white patches (lesions) on oral soft-tissues that can be pre-cancerous
- Delayed healing after tooth extractions, oral surgery, or periodontal treatment
- Decreased success rate of dental implant procedures or restorative treatments.
- Increased risk of developing oral cancer
Use of tobacco products affects the bonding between bone and soft tissue with your teeth.
Tobacco products interfere with the regular operation of gum tissue cells, making smokers more susceptible to infections, including gum disease.
Tobacco use also limits blood flow to the gums – which can slow wound healing.
Eighty per cent of people with cancer of the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat have used tobacco, and the risk of these cancers is linked to the amount of tobacco smoked or chewed and how long the tobacco use has occurred. Smokers are six times more likely to develop these cancers.
What about Pipes, Cigars, or Chewing Tobacco?
These products are just as bad. One 23-year study demonstrated that cigar smokers suffer tooth loss and bone loss within the jawbone at rates similar to cigarette smokers.
Beyond that, pipe and cigar smokers are at risk for throat and oral cancers – whether inhalation occurs or not — and other oral consequences including bad breath stained teeth, and increased risk of gum disease.
Smokeless tobacco can aggravate gum tissues, causing them to pull back from your teeth.
Once the gum tissue draws back, teeth roots are exposed, increasing the chance of tooth decay and sensitivity.
Smokeless tobacco products (e.g. chewing snuff and chewing tobacco) contain nearly 30 chemicals shown to increase the risk of oral, throat, and esophageal cancer.
Worse, chewing tobacco has higher levels of nicotine than cigarettes do, making them harder to quit. One can of snuff has the nicotine punch of more than 60 cigarettes.
Sugars, frequently used to improve the flavour of chewing tobacco, can increase the risk of tooth decay.
One study showed that chewing tobacco users were four times more likely to suffer from tooth decay.
Smokeless tobacco usually contains sand and grit from the soil in which it is grown, which can erode teeth.
What Can Be Done?
The most important thing is to quit tobacco. Here are a few places to get help.
- Your dentist or oral healthcare professional at Smiles First Dental
- Your doctor
- Quitline Tel. 13 7848 (13 QUIT)
- Australian Dental Association Tel. (03) 8825 4600
But there is one other important thing to do as well.
Visit Smiles First Dental as recommended. Regular check-ups are more important for tobacco users. Some important things take place at your six-month visits with Smiles First Dental.
First, your hygienist removes the plaque that contributes to gum disease and tooth decay – it is extra-important for tobacco users to keep excellent oral health.
Next, your dentist performs a thorough examination designed to detect any issues related to tobacco use in their earliest stages.
This is particularly important for oral cancer, which is most successfully treated when caught early.
Your best line of defence against tobacco and any dental damage is stopping use; however, regular trips to your Northmead dentist can be a great help while you are quitting, or preparing to quit.
Dental Care at Smiles First Dental
Smiles First Dental is your trustworthy dentist in Northmead in Greater Western Sydney.
We place primary focus on your smile and oral health – they are important to us!
Our highly trained staff treats all dental issues, including complicated problems related to other health conditions.
Our commitment to our patients is a stunning smile and maximised oral health.
We make life a bit easier for our patients by offering weekend appointments and late hours on weekdays.
GAP FREE CHECK UP AND CLEAN
We offer all patients gap-free check ups, cleans and all preventative treatments if you are in a private health fund ($180 for patients not in a private health fund).
We are located at 19/5-7 Kleins Rd in Northmead.