National Kick Butts Day: Smoking & Oral Health
It’s National Kick Butts Day! Today, thousands of youth across the nation are spreading awareness about tobacco use and encouraging kids to stay smoke-free. In honor of their efforts, we want to discuss the effects of smoking on oral health… and how to fight them.
5 Ways Smoking Affects Your Chompers
From bad breath to cancer, tobacco use of any kind is harsh on your oral health. This means that cigarettes, E-cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and vape pens all contain nicotine and harmful chemicals that damage your pearly whites.
1. Gum Disease
Tobacco products affect your gum tissue cells, making them more prone to infections. In fact, when you smoke, you reduce the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream – meaning that once infected, your gums can’t heal very well. Gum disease in smokers can worsen much quicker than in non-smokers.
2. Bad Breath
Smoking and vaping dries out your mouth. This leads to an overgrowth of the bad bacteria that cause bad breath.
3. Tooth Staining
Nicotine turns yellow once it’s combined with oxygen. Your teeth are porous, so when you smoke, your teeth literally absorb the tobacco and turn yellow. This also applies to the “ejuice” in electronic cigarettes.
4. Tooth Loss
Smokers can be almost 4 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers. That’s because smoking leads to chronic gum disease and tooth decay, both of which cause tooth loss.
5. Oral Cancer
The chemicals in tobacco products cause genetic changes to cells in your mouth. This can lead to the development of oral cancer. In fact, about 90 percent of people with oral cancer use tobacco.
Dental Care for Smokers
If you smoke, dental care is going to be very important to manage your oral (and overall!) health. You’ll typically want to visit your dentist every three to six months for regular cleanings and checkups. Your dentist can watch for signs of gum disease and oral cancer, and can even diagnose other systemic conditions, like heart disease, for which you’re more at risk.
Dental insurance helps make these regular visits more affordable. If you don’t currently have a plan, learn more about our affordable options here.
Kick Your Habit
One of the best things you can do for your chompers is to quit smoking. Your risk of gum disease immediately begins to decrease, and within hours your breath starts to get better, too. After five years of going smoke-free, you’re half as likely to get oral cancer! Thinking about quitting but don’t know where to start? Check out these free resources from Way to Quit. And keep in mind, if you have health insurance, you might qualify for some free care as a smoker.