The truth can be hard to swallow, but there’s no way around it. You can’t take good care of your teeth and use tobacco. The evidence is clear: tobacco products hurt your teeth and gums in all forms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and other forms of tobacco cause oral cancer, gum disease, and other oral health problems. Tobacco use is also linked to higher rates of tooth decay. Quitting tobacco is one of the most important things you can do for your mouth. As your family dentist, we’re not here to judge. Instead, we want to help you improve your oral and overall health by deciding to quit. It will enhance your smile and could save your life.
Cigarettes and Oral Health
Smoking causes tooth decay, gum disease, oral cancer and other oral health problems.
- According to the CDC, untreated tooth decay is higher in people who smoke cigarettes. More than 40 percent of adults aged 20 to 64 who currently smoke cigarettes have untreated tooth decay. The CDC also estimates that 43 percent of adults aged 65 or older who currently smoke cigarettes have lost all of their teeth. Many patients don’t know that tobacco contains sugar along with harmful chemicals. It’s a menace for teeth and gums.
- Gum disease: smoking weakens your immune system and makes it more likely for infection to occur. According to the CDC, smokers have twice the risk of nonsmokers of getting gum disease. Smoking and other tobacco use also make it less likely that treatment for gum disease will be successful.
- Nicotine and other chemicals damage mouth tissue. So when you have a dental problem, it’s harder to treat. Smoking makes the healing process more challenging if you have a tooth extraction or other procedure. It also makes you a less promising candidate for dental implants: your gums and jaw bone simply can’t support procedures needed to make implants successful.
- Cigars and pipes present similar dangers to cigarettes. They contain many of the same chemicals as cigarettes. According to the American Cancer Society, cigar smokers are 4 to 10 times more likely to die from cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, and esophagus than nonsmokers.
Is Smokeless Tobacco A Safer Alternative Than Cigarettes?
Smokeless products like chewing tobacco and snuff are not a safer alternative to cigarettes for oral health. Smokeless tobacco exposes users to cancer-causing chemicals. According to the American Cancer Society, it’s associated with:
- Mouth, tongue, cheek and gum cancer
- Cancer of the esophagus
- Pancreatic cancer
Smokeless tobacco is also linked to gum disease and causes white spots in the mouth called leukoplakia, which can eventually become cancer.
Tobacco Use and Oral Health: Not A Pretty Picture
In addition to severe oral health risks associated with tobacco use, it also has some downright ugly side effects. Both cigarettes and smokeless tobacco can cause:
- Bad breath
- Discolored/ yellowing teeth
- Negative impact on your sense of taste and enjoyment of favorite foods
Protecting your health is the main reason quitting is a smart move. But it’s also about protecting and preserving your smile. You’ll look and feel better. After quitting tobacco, many patients treat themselves to in-office whitening and are thrilled with the results.
Is Vaping a Safer Alternative to Tobacco Products?
Vaping is not a safer alternative to tobacco products. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which hurts gum health. Vapes have many of the same cancer-causing chemicals in regular cigarettes and contain sugary flavorings that contribute to tooth decay.
Talk With Your Family Dentist About Quitting Tobacco
Vaping and smokeless tobacco aren’t effective ways to quit smoking, and they aren’t a safer alternative for your oral health. But there are tried-and-true methods for folks who want to stop. Your family dentist is a healthcare provider who can help you give up tobacco and nicotine products. Hall Family Dentistry can help you find the tobacco cessation solution that’s right for you, with options including :
- Nicotine Replacement Therapy (patches, gum, nasal spray, inhalers, and lozenges)
- Prescription medications (including Chantix and the antidepressant Wellbutrin)
- Therapy and behavior modification techniques
Some smokers are hesitant or embarrassed to see the dentist. But don’t be afraid to make that first appointment with your family dentist. Our office is a judgment-free zone. We know that nicotine addiction is hard to break. We also know that the health benefits are so enormous it’s worth the effort. Dr. Hall and our fantastic staff are your oral health partners, and we’re 100 percent on your side.