A well-established dentist in Eugene, Dr. Feldmanis understands the danger smoking presents to her patients’ health. From a decreased lung capacity to an increased risk of cancer, the science behind smoking’s impact on the body is well-known and widely understood.
Unfortunately, many patients don’t realize the risk smoking presents to their oral health. For example, smoking increases a patient’s risk for dental disease, smell and taste disorders, gum disease, tooth loss, oral cancer, and other serious oral health problems.
Let’s look at the impact smoking has on oral health and why Dr. Feldmanis recommends that patients stop smoking if they hope to enjoy a lifetime of quality oral health.
Increased Risk of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer typically begins inside the mouth and impacts areas like the tongue, lining of the lips and cheeks, and the hard palate.
A recent study examining oral cancer risk in various countries found that the average smoker had 3.43 times higher risk of developing oral cancer than nonsmokers.
Symptoms of oral cancer include:
- Red, white, or speckled patches in the mouth.
- A lump or sore that remains in the mouth for more than 14 days.
- Trouble chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.
- Ill-fitting dentures
- Sudden unexplained weight loss
Early detection is key to successfully treating oral cancers. When caught at an early stage, a patient’s likelihood of fully recovering significantly increases than when the disease is caught late in its progression. Regular oral cancer exams are just one reason why patients need to schedule frequent visits with Dr. Feldmanis.
Smoking increases a patient’s risk of developing gum disease. Gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease, develops when harmful oral bacteria attack the gums and bones, causing these structures to retreat from the base of the tooth. When allowed to advance, gingivitis becomes periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease that destroys the underlying structures that form the foundation of a patient’s oral health.
Periodontitis is the leading cause of permanent tooth loss in adults.
Symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bleeding of the gums, especially after brushing and flossing
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Swelling of gum tissue
- Tooth loss
Gum disease is a chronic infection and inflammatory condition. Smoking weakens the immune system, making it harder for smokers to fight off an infection. Smoking also contributes to an increase of plaque in the mouth. So, not only does smoking make it easier for patients to develop gum disease, but the harmful habit makes it harder for smokers to fight off the infection and prevent permanent tooth loss.
An increased prevalence of plaque contributes to a higher risk of tooth decay and the development of cavities. Studies have shown a direct connection between smoking and cavities.
Saliva composition is key in predicting a patient’s risk of cavities. Studies have shown that salivary secretory IgA, pH, and flow rates all play a role in preventing cavities. Smoking alters the pH levels in the mouth while also increasing the prevalence of plaque. When combined, this creates an optimal environment for tooth decay.
Don’t Let Smoking Ruin Your Oral Health
Smoking is a habit that weakens your immune system, destroys your oral health, and increases your risk of developing a life-threatening disease. Quitting smoking makes sense for so many reasons.
Dr. Feldmanis can provide you with tips on how to prevent smoking from damaging the health of your smile. Make sure to talk with Dr. Feldmanis about your smoking habit during your next visit to our office.