Smoking isn’t just bad for your general health – the habit can have a negative effect on your oral health too.
Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you. There have been literally hundreds of campaigns over the years, pointing out the links between smoking and cancer, smoking and heart disease, smoking and birth defects. But all this negative publicity doesn’t seem to stop people from taking up the habit and it certainly doesn’t make it any easier to give it up!
What’s the deal?
What isn’t such public knowledge is the damage that smoking can do to your oral health. As part of this year’s No Smoking Day, on March 9, UK dentists joined forces with other medical professionals to warn us all about the damage that cigarettes can do to our health. Of course, the fact that smoking makes your breath stink and turns your teeth yellow will not be news to anyone, whether they’re a smoker or not, but the problems can go much deeper than that. In fact, these days it is pretty simple to make your teeth look like you’ve never picked up a cigarette in your life; professional teeth whitening can get rid of most of the nicotine staining in just a few sessions.
Some of the other effects of smoking on the mouth and teeth are not so easy to get rid of, however. Smokers are four times as likely to suffer from gum disease as non-smokers – a condition that left untreated can cause tooth loss. What’s worse is that smoking can actually make it more difficult for your body to fight off the infections that cause these conditions in the first place, making the consequences of developing gum disease much more serious.
Perhaps the most worrying oral health problems that smoking can cause, or at least contribute to, are cancers of the mouth and throat. Several studies over the years have found a conclusive link between cigarettes and these potentially fatal diseases, though other factors can also cause the condition. If you have tried and really can’t give up the cigarettes, which is the best way to protect yourself from developing all kinds of cancers, then the next best thing is to make sure that you never miss a dental check-up. Early detection makes all the difference is beating oral cancer, and your dentist is the best person to spot when something isn’t quite right with your mouth.
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