As a smoker, you're probably used to others telling you that you need to quit in order to save yourself from lung cancer or heart disease. Perhaps you've thought of quitting, but these diseases seem so obscure and far away that you've had a hard time conjuring up the motivation. Well—here's yet another reason to put down those cigarettes once and for all: it's horrible for your oral health. Here are three specific reasons why your dentist's advice is sure to be "quit smoking and never look back."
Oral cancer is common—and horrible.
Lung cancer may be the form of cancer most often attributed to smoking, but it's far from the only cancer brought on by long-term tobacco exposure. Oral cancer is also very common in smokers. More than 48,000 cases were diagnosed in the United States in 2016 alone. What's more scary is the death rate from oral cancer. Only 64% of those diagnosed with the condition are alive 5 years later.
Oral cancer is not pretty, either. It often results in patients having to have part of all of their jaw bone removed, which results in permanent disfigurement or the need for multiple reconstructive surgeries. Quitting smoking may be tough, but it's certainly easier than having to live the rest of your live without an upper jaw.
Smoking will permanently yellow your teeth.
Teeth whitening procedures can only do so much. If you smoke too much for too long, the stains will permeate your enamel, and no about of bleaching will grant you white teeth again. Your only hope for a presentable smile will be to have veneers put on—and these are quite costly. Using whitening toothpastes while you're a smoker will only have a small effect on the yellowing process; your only real hope is to quit.
Smoking is terrible for your gums.
The toxins in tobacco smoke harm your gum tissue. Plus, smoking dries out your mouth and makes it more appealing to the bacteria that cause gum disease. If your gums are not sore and red already, it will only be a matter of time before you start developing these symptoms. And while gum disease may seem minor at first, it does eventually lead to loose teeth and damaged periodontal ligaments. It's incredibly hard to fight gum disease while you're still smoking regularly. So quitting now is the best way to prevent tooth loss and bloody gums down the road.
For more information, contact a dentist like C. James Goodwin, DDS, PLLC.