Chewing tobacco has many things that can cause harm to your oral health. But smoking isn’t a good option for optimal mouth health either. What exactly are the impacts of tobacco use on your oral health? Dr. Scott Finlay, a dentist in Annapolis, MD, explains.
Risk of Cancer
Lung cancer isn’t the only form of cancer that can come with tobacco. Particularly with chewing tobacco, you’re at a higher risk for cancer in your mouth, voice box, esophagus, colon, and bladder. Because the juices that chewing tobacco produces can be swallowed, even if you don’t realize some has been, cancer in the digestive system is possible. You may think you’re getting it all out by spitting, but chances are high that some has made its way down your throat.
Wear and Tear on Your Teeth
Many forms of tobacco can wear down your teeth faster than normal. Cigars, unprocessed tobacco leaves used as wrappers, and chewing tobacco all contain small abrasive particles. When these particles are mixed with saliva and end up being chewed, an abrasive paste is created. This is going to wear your teeth down faster over time.
Being a Higher Risk for Certain Oral Health Problems
If you’re a smoker, you have twice the chance of developing gum disease than someone who’s a non-smoker. Chewing tobacco also irritates your gums, which can lead to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease has an impact on your overall health, not just that of your mouth. Gum disease is linked to an increased risk of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or premature births if you’re pregnant.
The mouth is a gateway to the rest of your body for bacteria. With gum disease, the gums are irritated and more likely to have tears and openings. Bacteria gets into these openings in your gums and travels throughout your bloodstream, around your entire body. Since periodontal disease is primarily inflammation, the bacteria can lead to inflammation in other parts of your body.
Gum Disease is Harder to Treat
If you develop gum disease while you have a tobacco habit, the gum disease is harder to treat. Smoking actually impacts your body’s immune system and makes it harder to do its job. This makes it harder to treat periodontal disease successfully. Smoking also limits the growth of blood vessels, so any issues you have with bleeding gums may continue and it can take longer for you to heal if you have to have any form of oral surgery.
Fewer Options for Dental Treatments
The many oral health problems associated with tobacco may lead to you losing teeth. But the health problems, like inflammation and high levels of bacteria, mean that you may not be eligible for the best solutions to replace missing teeth. Dental implants are the gold standard for replacing missing teeth, but surgery may not be a viable option for you. The jawbone may also have deteriorated faster, leaving an unsuitable amount of bone for implants to fuse with.
Regular Checkups at Your Annapolis, Maryland Dentist
Particularly if you’ve used tobacco in the past or are in the present, it’s crucial you see your dentist regularly. We can help point out oral health problems as soon as possible. Call us or schedule an appointment online.