There’s an increasing amount of social pressure for people to put out their cigarettes in public, and for good reason. Smoking can cause everything from bleeding gums and tooth discoloration to throat cancer.
Smoking and Oral Health
Smoking can affect the soft tissue of the gums and even the bones that hold the teeth in place. On a cellular level smoking corrodes the gum’s tissue and can lead to localized infections in the mouth.
Cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products can also worsen preexisting cuts and infections in the gums and mouth by limiting blood flow to the gums. Overall, smoking just makes you that much more susceptible to developing a gamut of unwanted conditions.
The chances of developing periodontal disease increased inflammation and plaque buildup, and even the corrosion of the actual jawbone can all be linked back to smoking.
This is all troubling news since an estimated one-fifth of US eighteen-year-olds regularly smoke cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To take an even larger picture view of the situation, though, smoking kills nearly a half-million Americans annually and increases the risk of developing numerous types of cancers.
Is Chewing Tobacco Less Harmful?
Not really. Even chewing tobacco isn’t exempt from making users more susceptible to certain types of throat and mouth cancers.
It’s been shown that chewing tobacco contains over two dozen compounds linked to throat cancer and esophagus cancer. Obviously, chewing tobacco also erodes gum tissue and is not a “safe” alternative to smoking.
It may only take a few years of using chewing tobacco for the gum tissue in the lower part of the mouth to noticeably erode. Once this happens, the teeth and its roots are more exposed, which increases the chances of infection.
Smoking and Cancer Risk
Studies have shown that the longer you smoke and the more cigarettes you smoke every day the more susceptible you are to cancers of the larynx, salivary glands, and mouth. It’s also been estimated that four-fifths of cancers of the mouth and throat relate back to earlier smoking of cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products.
Smoking and Gum Tissue
In addition, smoking cigarettes can greatly exacerbate periodontal disease and the erosion of gum tissue over time.
Smokers might at first notice bleeding gums; soon enough, though, your gums separate themselves from your teeth and your teeth may even fall out because of the lack of gum support.
Smoking is really a double whammy in terms of damage to the gums – smoking itself causes damage to the surrounding gum tissue, but smoking also pinches blood flow to the region, which results in even poorer gum health.
Additional Harm from Smoking
It’s important to bear in mind that the link between smoking and cancer doesn’t only apply to older adults. Young adults in their 20’s and 30’s are succumbing to oral cancers because of early smoking habits.
In fact, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco can up your risk of developing oral cancers fourfold!
Even if you don’t develop cancer from nursing a long-term smoking habit – an increasingly big if – you will almost certainly experience unsightly tooth discoloration, slower healing in the mouth, increased tartar buildup, and increased chances of erosion of the jaw bone.
It’s also interesting to note that approximately 20% of chewing tobacco is sugar. As dentists around the country understand, sugar itself is a leading cause of cavities.
Smoking, overall, is linked to the erosion of gum tissue and a host of cancers. It’s increasingly seen as a dirty habit, and it certainly dirties your teeth!