According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 34 million American adults smoke cigarettes. While the number of U.S. smokers has declined over the past several years, the health risks associated with smoking still remain. Many people know that smoking has negative health consequences such as lung cancer, but your dentist in Bakersfield also wants to make sure our patients and neighbors know that smoking has been linked to several oral health concerns, and it doesn’t take long for those problems to happen.
Cigarettes, as well as cigars, chewing tobacco, and pipe tobacco, have all been linked to several serious health concerns. Why? These products contain dangerous ingredients, such as toxins (which are poisonous), carcinogens (which cause cancer), and nicotine (which leads to addiction). This combination can not only make tobacco products dangerous, but it can also make them difficult to quit.
How Long Will it Take for Smoking to Affect Teeth?
The answer to this is – it depends. Variables such as your current oral health, diet, how much you smoke, and how often you light up can determine how long it takes for smoking to affect oral health. However, it’s important to know that in as little as one week of smoking, your oral health may become noticeably compromised. But negative side effects can occur even after lighting up your first cigarette.
Oral Health Problems Linked to Smoking
Smoking can lead to a whole host of health problems, such as heart disease, lung problems, and even death. When it comes to oral health, let’s see what your dentist in Bakersfield has to say about the oral health side effects of smoking.
- Plaque & Tartar – Using tobacco products can affect saliva production in the mouth. Saliva is an important part of good oral health as it helps wash away bacteria and neutralize acids. Without enough of it, such as what can happen with smokers, bacteria can easily attach to teeth and gums, making it easier for decay to occur, among other things.
- Gum Disease & Tooth Loss – Gum disease is more common in smokers than non-smokers and can not only affect oral health but overall health, too. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, respiratory infections, dementia, and diabetes. But this infection in the gums is also one of the leading causes of tooth loss. If you notice any signs of gum disease such as swollen, red gums, or bleeding after brushing or flossing, talk with your dentist in Bakersfield. After all, once gum disease advances, it can be irreversible.
- Oral Cancer – The most severe risk of smoking and other types of tobacco use is the prevalence of oral cancer. According to Johns Hopkins, cigarette smokers are 10 times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-smokers. Cigar smokers have about the same risk. While many oral cancers can be treated, they need to be caught early. Make sure to see your dentist in Bakersfield twice a year for checkups.
Smoking and any other type of tobacco use can affect oral health quickly, and the longer tobacco is used, the more the risk increases. Work with your dentist and your doctor, and use these tools from the American Cancer Society to help you devise a plan to quit today.