If you smoke, you’ve undoubtedly heard dozens of reasons why you should stop. A lower life expectancy, lung cancer, stroke, heart attack… all of these are more likely among smokers than among their non-smoking peers. If you needed a few more reasons to quit smoking, here are some ways the habit negatively affects your oral health.
Smoking Makes Gum Disease Worse
Smoking can cause or exacerbate gum disease. Why? First, it tends to dry out the oral tissues, leading to more fragility in the gums. As they dry, they pull away from the teeth, leaving a handy spot for bacteria to hang out. Smoking also affects the tiny capillaries bringing oxygen to the gum tissues, which can make it take longer for small abrasions to heal.
Smoking Can Lead to Tooth Loss
As the gum tissues dry out and become more unhealthy, the bone underneath also begins to erode. This can lead to loose teeth and tooth loss. Also, if you have oral surgery, you’re at risk for infection and complications if you keep smoking. You’ll be more likely to keep your teeth if you quit smoking.
Smoking Has Cosmetic Effects, Too
Of course, you might be mainly concerned about the immediate cosmetic effects of smoking. Yellowed teeth and halitosis (bad breath) are common maladies experienced by smokers. Teeth whitening doesn’t work well if you continue smoking while you undergo the treatment. And while good oral hygiene can help with bad breath, the fact is that cigarettes and frequent gum infections will cause halitosis despite your best efforts.
It is hard to quit smoking. The good news is that there are several products and behavior modification techniques that can help. Your physician is a good source of information on how you can kick the habit. Talk to your doctor or dentist today about how you can stop smoking and achieve better oral health (and overall health).