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Effects of Tobacco on Oral Health


Is tobacco bad for oral health?

The effects of tobacco are harmful to oral health.

Yes, the use of tobacco -- in any form -- is hazardous to oral health. Most of us know the facts: Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and is linked to heart and other lung-related diseases. In addition, the use of tobacco -- including cigarettes, pipes, cigars and smokeless "chewing" tobacco -- increases a person's risks for developing mouth cancer and throat cancer, and gum disease.

Tobacco products contribute to poor periodontal health, which is the leading cause of tooth loss. Cigarette smoke contains nicotine and nearly 1000 other chemicals that have been linked to cancer. Oral tissues in the mouth and throat are repeatedly exposed to these cancer-causing agents via the smoke. Cigar smoking is not safer than cigarette smoking. Those who smoke cigars are exposed to the same risks as cigarette smokers -- including oral and throat cancer and gum disease. Tobacco has adverse affects on your oral health. Giving up tobacco products will not only help prolong your life, but help save your teeth.

Is chewing tobacco safe?

According to the American Dental Association, smokeless tobacco is linked to tooth decay and loss of teeth, mouth ulcers and cancer. Chewing tobacco is similar to cigarettes and cigars in that it also contains toxins linked to cancer. Use of tobacco can cause the gums to swell, bleed or become inflamed -- resulting in periodontal disease.

Chewing tobacco may also cause receding gum lines, which expose the roots of the teeth and makes them vulnerable to decay. Research conducted in 1999 by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed that chewing tobacco users were more likely to develop dental caries on the roots of their teeth, than those who didn't use tobacco.

Any other adverse effects of tobacco?

-  The use of tobacco products affects the healing process. Bone does not heal as well in smokers as non-smokers -- causing problems with oral surgery and periodontal surgery. Some periodontists prefer not to operate on individuals who smoke because they will not heal as well as non-smokers.

-  Smoking stains the teeth.

-  Some chewing tobacco has abrasives added to it that can wear down or flatten the teeth.

What are the symptoms of oral cancer?

Dental exams should include an examination of the mouth for oral cancer. If you experience any of these symptoms, according to the National Institutes of Health, you should consult a dentist or doctor:

  • A sore on the lip or in the mouth that does not heal
  • A lump on the lip or in the throat or mouth
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue or mouth lining
  • Unusual bleeding, numbness or pain in the mouth
  • A sore throat that won't disappear, or a feeling something is caught in the throat
  • Difficulty or pain with swallowing or chewing
  • Jaw swelling that causes dentures to fit poorly or be uncomfortable
  • Voice changes
  • Ear pain

Remember, only a dentist can diagnose your dental problems and offer the right treatment plan for you. If you need a dentist, call us at 1-866-970-0441 to be connected with one today.

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