Western Dental Services issued the following announcement on May 8.
Nearly 40 million people in the U.S. smoke and 4.7 million middle and high school students use a tobacco product including e-cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
No matter how you look at it – whether you smoke, chew tobacco, or vape e-cigarettes – the use of tobacco products can cause serious health problems, including extreme damage to the health of your gums and teeth.
Before you light up that cigarette, vape or chew tobacco, Western Dental & Orthodontics urges people to consider the damage it can have to your teeth and overall oral hygiene:
- Cancer. Tobacco use is linked to many types of cancers, including mouth, throat, esophagus, cheek, gum, lip and tongue cancer. Chemicals in e-cigarette vapors cause changes in the genetic make up of cells in the mouth, causing sustained inflammation and, long term, can trigger the development of cancer
- Cavities. Chewing tobacco is loaded with sugar, which can erode your tooth enamel
- Gum disease. Tobacco's sugars and irritants can cause gum infections. Over time, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. Signs include red swollen gums, sensitive teeth, loose teeth, tooth loss
- Precancerous mouth lesions. Chewing tobacco can cause lesions where the chew is placed and can become cancerous
- Longer healing time. Smoking and chewing tobacco will hinder the healing process following oral surgery
Smokers and tobacco users have twice the risk for gum disease compared to a non-smoker. While some think vaping is safer, it can also cause tooth decay, gum inflammation, and excessive bacteria in your mouth.
If you are a smoker and trying to quit, Western Dental recommends the following to avoid gum disease:
- Brush your teeth. Although this is important for everyone's dental health, teeth brushing is especially important for people who smoke. An ADA-approved toothpaste is best
- Rinse with an anti-tar mouthwash. Anti-tar mouthwashes will help dissolve and remove stubborn tobacco tar stains
- Floss daily. You’ll help to minimize plaque where bacteria thrive
- Visit your dentist regularly. A dentist can help keep any problems in check and prevent more serious issues.