Blog reprise: Smoking a punch to your mouth
Last week I revisited stress and how it affects your mouth. Today, I’ll urge smokers to stop. Not only is smoking infamous for its effect on the body, it is a xxxx for your mouth, too.
We’re fortunate here in the U.S. that fewer and fewer people smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 15.1 percent of adults smoked in 2015 – and that’s a decline from 20.9 percent from 10 years earlier. Great news! Even better that it helps their oral health, too.
Smokers are usually bombarded by a variety health problems, but probably the least addressed when listing the negatives of smoking is the effect that it has on your mouth. Most familiar are oral cancers (often linked to the use of chewing tobacco), but smoking also affects your gums and your saliva and can keep your body from alerting you about emerging health problems.
Smokers are up to six times more prone to gum disease, according to a variety of sources, and this can lead to problems such as earlier bone loss in the jaw and therefore become a threat of multiple tooth loss. Another problem is the negative effect smoking has on the tissue helping hold your teeth in place. Loss or weakening of this tissue can cause the loss of teeth just like with the degeneration of the bone in the jaw.
The most insidious effect of smoking on the mouth (and the rest of the body for that matter) is that it masks disease and other health problems. Since nicotine in tobacco makes blood vessels contract, this lessening of the flow of blood and prevent signs of disease as well as restricting the body’s ability to fight infection. One report noted that slight infection in the gum area are common and easily treated, but smoking allows the condition to flourish while masking its presence in the mouth until a time when a more intensive course of treatment is needed.
If you’d like to read about an individual story about smoking, gum disease and tooth loss, then check out the story of a man named Brett. Click here for his story and videos from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.