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4 Ways Smoking Affects Your Oral Health

4 Ways Smoking Affects Your Oral Health

Lung cancer, heart disease, stroke — these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential health complications that are directly linked to smoking. 

Since the team here at Hillsdale Dental Care focuses on oral health, team leaders Dr. Magdalena Azzarelli and Dr. Roge Jacob want to shed some light on the many ways smoking can affect your teeth and gums, and none of them are good.

In fact, 43% of smokers aged 65 years and older have no teeth, and the connection is far from coincidence. Please note that when we refer to smoking, we’re also referring to vaping and chewing tobacco.

1. Smoking and gum disease

A big driver of tooth loss in general is gum disease (periodontitis), which affects about 46% of American adults aged 30 and older. Now, if you’re a smoker, you’re far more likely to develop periodontitis because smoking weakens your body’s defenses. And when you have a compromised immune system, harmful bacteria can set up in your mouth far more easily.

Smoking can also affect your circulation, so if you develop an infection in your mouth, valuable healing resources have a tougher time making the rounds to help your gums heal. This is an important point with gum disease because the condition is progressive. Once bacteria get under your gums, they can eat away at the hard and soft tissues in your mouth, and if you’re a smoker, you won’t be able to fight back as well.

2. Smoking and tooth decay

More than 40% of smokers between the ages of 20 and 64 have untreated tooth decay, which is the other common cause of tooth loss. The reasons why smokers are more vulnerable to tooth decay are the same as for gum disease — poor defenses against bacteria and poor circulation.

3. Smoking and oral cancers

Smoking is one of the strongest risk factors for head and neck cancers, such as oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer, which are diagnosed in nearly 60,000 Americans each year.

4. Smoking and your cosmetic dental health

As if the reasons above aren’t compelling enough to quit, there are more cosmetic reasons why you should consider ditching the habit. First, smoking stains your teeth, and even your twice annual teeth cleanings may not be enough to keep your teeth from discoloring.

As well, smoking leads to bad breath, both from the smoke itself and also due to the higher number of bacteria in your mouth.

So, for the sake of your dental health and your overall health, we’re going to join the movement in urging you to quit. If you’re unsure where to start, click here for some resources provided by the CDC to help people break the nicotine habit.

If you have more questions about the effects that smoking and tobacco use can have on your oral health, please contact our office in San Jose, California.

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