Tobacco Use and Oral Health

Posted by Alison Han Jul 27,2023

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Whether you're a smoker, chewer, or someone looking to support a loved one in quitting, this article will provide valuable insights and practical tips. Your smile is one of your most valuable assets - it's the first thing people notice about you. However, tobacco use can wreak havoc on your oral health, causing a host of issues ranging from bad breath to severe gum disease. 

How Tobacco Use Affects Oral Health

Tobacco use, in any form, can have detrimental effects on your oral health. Let's start with one of the most common issues: bad breath. It's no secret that smoking or chewing tobacco leaves an unpleasant odor that can linger for hours. But bad breath is just the tip of the iceberg. Tobacco use also increases your risk of developing gum disease. Why? Well, tobacco contains harmful chemicals that irritate and inflame the gums, making them more susceptible to infection. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to develop gum disease compared to non-smokers. 

If left untreated, gum disease can progress and lead to tooth loss. Smoking interferes with proper blood flow to the gums and slows down their ability to heal after dental procedures like extractions or implants. Furthermore, tobacco use has been linked to increased plaque buildup on teeth and a higher risk of cavities. The sticky tar from cigarettes attracts bacteria that thrive in this environment leading to enamel erosion and decay over time. Let's not forget about oral cancer - a serious consequence of long-term tobacco use. Smoking or using smokeless tobacco significantly increases the likelihood of developing cancers in various parts of the mouth, including lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat.

Ways to Quit Using Tobacco

If you're a tobacco user and want to improve your oral health, quitting is the best decision you can make. But we all know that breaking any addiction is easier said than done. However, there are various strategies that can help you quit using tobacco for good.

  • Consider seeking support from friends, family or even joining a smoking cessation support group. Surrounding yourself with people who understand what you're going through can provide the motivation and encouragement needed along your journey.
  • Another effective way to quit is by replacing tobacco with healthier alternatives. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products such as nicotine gum or patches can help curb cravings while gradually reducing your dependence on nicotine.
  • Additionally, some individuals find success through behavioral therapy techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps identify triggers and develop coping mechanisms to deal with cravings without turning to tobacco use.
  • For those in need of extra assistance, prescription medications may be an option worth exploring. Consult with a healthcare professional who can prescribe medication specifically designed to aid in smoking cessation.
  • Don't underestimate the power of lifestyle changes when it comes to kicking the habit. Engaging in regular physical activity not only distracts from cravings but also releases feel-good endorphins that combat withdrawal symptoms.

Remember that quitting smoking is a process unique to each individual; what works for one person may not work for another. Finding the right combination of strategies tailored to your needs will increase your chances of successfully quitting for good!

To learn more, visit Essence of Dentistry at 16300 Redmond Way #200, Redmond, WA 98052, or call (425) 885-0200.

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