Tobacco - An Oral Health Nightmare

National Lung Cancer Awareness

November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month, which means that teen smoking and the affects of tobacco use on our bodies will be a big topic this month. As dental professionals, we think this is wonderful news! Why? We’re excited because it brings to light a very important oral health topic, tobacco’s affect on our teeth.

When you think of smoking, or using smokeless tobacco you think of lung cancer, throat cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. Sometimes, you may even think of the terrible brown stains left on your teeth after extensive tobacco use. Very rarely, though, do people consider the full spectrum of damage tobacco has on your oral health. Oral health problems brought on by tobacco use don’t stop at your mouth. Infections caused by smoking can have long-lasting affects on your entire body.

Tobacco’s Affect on Teeth

Though it is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month, smoking can cause far more damage to your body than just lung cancer. Tobacco’s affect on teeth can lead to heart disease, gum disease, and studies have shown that it can hurt nearly every organ in the human body in varying degrees. When it comes to your mouth alone, using tobacco can quickly bring about periodontitis (gum disease), which generally causes your gums to recede and then your teeth to become loose or can even fall out. Many dental issues are hereditary, so why do something to your body like smoking which further harms your teeth? Smokers have the increased risks of worn down and stained teeth, as well as tooth decay.

Quitting smoking may not be easy, but it is worth it for you and your children. In addition, floss daily and thoroughly brush your teeth often to remove plaque and prevent stains, though this won’t thwart disease like not smoking.

Affects of Smokeless Tobacco on Teeth

There is no such thing as a safe tobacco product because even chewing tobacco and snuff have horrible health consequences. Similar to smoking tobacco, smokeless tobacco is a carcinogen, which means that it can also lead to cancer, as well heart disease. Because there is about three times more nicotine in chewing tobacco, some find it more addictive. Your beautiful smile will also be highly affected. In many cases, users are also at risk for gum disease and tooth decay. Though smokeless tobacco has many of the same dangers as smoking tobacco, the risks are statistically lower.

Terminate Teen Tobacco Use

It goes without saying that there are many responsibilities and worries belonging to parenthood, but we would love to cross teen smoking off your list of worries for your child. Incredibly, in the last two years, youth or more specifically teen smoking is at a record low in over twenty years!

Worried about your child or teen smoking? Here are a few preventative tips:

  1. Mom and dad, practice what you preach! No smoking.
  2. Teach them the health consequences of smoking. Be honest.
  3. Explain that smoking is addictive and what that means.
  4. Communicate what peer pressure is and how to combat it.
  5. Educate them on the financial expenses that come with smoking.

Share this information with your children, because teen smoking is extremely serious and not “just a phase.” Even so, you aren’t fooling anyone if you are trying to hide the fact that you are a smoker… well, you definitely won’t fool your dentist. There is a lot that we can tell about your health and lifestyle just from your bi-yearly dental check-ups.

Feel free to pick up the phone or browse our website. Even request an appointment with Snodgrass-King! Your health and smile truly matter to us. As always, be the best example for your children to follow.