If your New Years’ resolution is to give up smoking, you’re on the right track to great oral health! Quitting smoking doesn’t just help your lungs and overall health; it also helps your smile, your breath, and, with that, your self-esteem. Higher self-esteem can mean stronger romantic relationships, better job prospects, and a happier life overall—so if you’re struggling to kick the habit, we strongly encourage you to seek out resources that can help!
If you manage to give up smoking for good, here are some of the benefits you will reap, tooth-wise:
The tar and nicotine present in tobacco can turn even the whitest teeth yellow very quickly. The more you smoke, the worse the discoloration will become, until your teeth are almost brown. (Don’t believe us? Feel free to perform a Google image search of smokers’ teeth—at your own risk.) If you quit smoking, though, you can take advantage of one of our many professional tooth whitening options, and rest assured that the results will last!
Periodontal disease, sometimes referred to as gum disease, is a bacterial infection caused by plaque. People who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque, and since smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, the infected gums are less likely to heal. Because of this, gum disease progresses more rapidly in smokers, and can quickly lead to gum loss, tooth loss, and even bone loss. If you quit smoking, you can avoid all of this and keep your teeth!
Tobacco use drastically increases your risk of oral cancer by exposing your mouth to carcinogenic chemicals, either during inhalation or through direct contact (i.e. chewing). These chemicals cause abnormal (cancerous) cells to develop in your mouth, manifesting in red or white spots that eventually become open sores. Almost 40% of people diagnosed with oral cancer die from it within 5 years of diagnosis—so if there’s any way you can avoid it, you should.
The good news is that, when people quit smoking, the risk of oral cancer starts to rapidly decrease. After 10 to 20 years of quitting, the risk decreases to almost the same level as that of someone who has never smoked.
If you are a smoker, it’s important to have frequent dental exams wherein your dentist can check for oral tumors and signs of periodontal disease. You can also examine yourself at home for sores around the face, mouth, and neck that do not go away after two weeks. Recurring bleeding, lumps, or discolored (white/red/black) patches inside the mouth are also symptoms that should be examined by a dentist immediately.
If you are recovering from smoking—either a few years of it, or a lifetime—our restorative dental services can help make your smile as healthy and bright as possible. To schedule a consultation appointment at our Hickory dentist office, click here.