It’s no secret that tobacco use isn’t healthy. It says so right on the package. On cigarettes and other smoked tobacco warnings from the Surgeon General proclaim, “smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy.” On smokeless tobacco packages, such warnings as this product can cause mouth cancer, gum disease, and tooth loss, are found. The truth is that all of these warning should be attached to every package of tobacco whether it is smoked or smokeless. The oral health effects of tobacco range from the most mild bad breath and dental stains, to oral cancer which accounts for one death every hour in the US. Regular preventive dentistry checkups can help diagnose and treat these oral health concerns at the earliest stages, but the only way to truly prevent these effects of tobacco usage is to kick the habit.
Tobacco and Gum Disease
Tobacco use is often linked to periodontal (gum) disease. A 2000 study of gum health at Temple University reported that 18% of patients who were smokers had gum disease. This is three times more than the less than 9% of nonsmokers who experienced any level of gum disease. Additionally, the smokers typically had more advanced gum disease, were less likely to recover, and were almost twice as likely to lose teeth within 5 years of diagnosis and initial treatment. Smoking causes gum disease due to the reduction of saliva in the mouth while smoking which decreases the body’s ability to neutralize damaging reactions. Soft tissue irritation from holding smokeless tobacco products in the mouth is another known cause of gum disease.
Tobacco and Oral Cancer
The majority of oral cancer cases (90%) are directly correlated to tobacco usage, and mouth, throat, and tongue cancers related to tobacco use are more likely to be fatal. This is due to the four tobacco-specific chemical compounds known as nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are highly carcinogenic (capable of causing cancer), so it’s no wonder that tobacco usage is sited as the cause of numerous types of cancer including oral cavity, lung, and esophageal.
Find out more from Your Dentist Somerville
If you’re a tobacco user, quitting doesn’t improve just your oral health. By giving up tobacco use, patients significantly decrease risk for lung cancer, heart disease, and other systemic illnesses. Contact Giamberardino Dental Care to find out more about the effects of tobacco on oral health, or schedule a consultation today.