Most of us know that tobacco use is bad for our health. But what you may not know is that tobacco can be especially harmful to your oral health. If you are a smoker – and most certainly if you chew tobacco – it’s important that you quit this habit as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done, which is why we’ve compiled the following information on how tobacco use affects oral health. It may just be the gentle push you need to give up tobacco for good.
How Tobacco Negatively Impacts Your Teeth and Gums
- Worn-down teeth – Whether you smoke tobacco or chew it, the leftover particles left behind after using tobacco are abrasive. Over time, these particles combine with saliva to form an abrasive paste substance that actually wears down teeth much faster than normal.
- Damaging inflammation – Tobacco use results in reduced blood flow to your mouth, and that in turn leads to an increase in bacteria and inflammation. That means that your overall oral health is compromised, and that makes it much harder to treat common dental issues.
- Gum disease – This oral health condition is all too common among adults in the US. But if you have gum disease and use tobacco, your dentist will have a much harder time treating it. That’s because smoking limits blood vessel growth, and that slows down the gum tissue’s ability to heal properly. As a result, gum disease is much harder to treat in smokers and people who chew tobacco. But there’s more bad news: recent studies have shown that smokers are twice as likely to develop gum disease as people who don’t smoke.
- Infection – Tobacco use diminishes the body’s ability to fight off infection. When it comes to oral health, that means that an otherwise simple infection could turn into something much worse in a tobacco user.
- Higher risk of cancer – Most of us are aware that chewing tobacco puts you at a much higher risk for developing mouth cancer. That’s because chewing tobacco contains an estimated 28 cancer-causing chemicals. But snuff doesn’t just increase your risk of mouth cancer – it also increases your chances of developing other cancers, such as cancer of the pancreas, voice box, esophagus, colon and bladder.
It’s obvious that smoking and/or chewing tobacco is bad for your oral health as well as your overall health. But quitting can be difficult. In fact, nicotine addiction is one of the most challenging to overcome. If you can’t quit on your own, talk to your dentist or health care professional for support. Your oral health – and your overall health – may depend on it.