Why being a quitter is a good thing
Whether it is cracking your knuckles, biting your nails or picking your nose when you think no one is looking; we all have a bad habit which is difficult to break. But, while many habits are harmless (at most annoying), there are some that are seriously bad for your health…such as smoking.
We all know that smoking cigarettes increases the risk of diseases such as lung cancer, heart attacks and strokes, but many people are unaware of the impact it has on your dental health. From discolouration of the teeth to bad breath, gum disease and even mouth cancer, smoking has serious implications for your oral wellbeing.
Don’t give up hope, give up smoking
If it is support and encouragement you need to kick that bad habit into touch, then National No Smoking Day on the 14th March could just be the incentive you need. And remember, if you decide to quit smoking you can greatly reduce the risks to your dental health too.
The dental effects of smoking
Whether you class yourself as a social or a heavy smoker, each time you light a cigarette or puff on a pipe you are inhaling dangerous toxins that are damaging to your teeth and gums.
Staining and Discolouration
One of the most noticeable signs of smoking to your oral health is the yellowing effect that it has on your teeth. The nicotine and tar found in a cigarette are absorbed into the tooth, turning it from a sparkling white to a dull yellow and in some instances even brown. Here at Oakley Road Dental Practice, we can perform a professional tooth whitening service for our patients. But prevention is always better than cure, so why not refresh your lifestyle as well as your teeth and take the decision to quit smoking today?
The chemicals found in tobacco are damaging to the tooth’s protective enamel, weakening the teeth and making them more vulnerable to food acids and bacteria. This can lead to your teeth rotting and even falling out. Whilst our dental hygienist can show and advise you how to clean and look after your teeth, it may be a lost cause if you continue to smoke.
Gum disease is one of the most prominent problems suffered by smokers and the more cigarettes you smoke and the longer you smoke them for, the greater the risk of developing it.
Every time you inhale the nicotine in the cigarette smoke, it reduces the blood flow to your mouth and gums, leaving it exposed to bacteria and vulnerable to infection. Once bacteria settles on your gums, it can become inflamed and destroy the flesh surrounding the teeth. It can also lower your immune system making you more susceptible to sickness and increasing the amount of time it takes for cuts, ulcer and scratches to heal.
It is important that you follow a good oral hygiene routine, gently brushing all areas of the teeth and mouth twice a day with a good fluoride toothpaste. Floss regularly to remove plaque build-up and food from between your teeth and around the gums and use a mouthwash to protect against gum disease and combat bad breath. And don’t forget to make sure that you visit us regularly for check-ups.
You may be able to tell if someone smokes before they even light up as the smoke particles can linger in the mouth, throat and lungs for some time after. Smoking is also known to affect the flow of saliva around the mouth. Saliva is an important fluid produced in the mouth for eating, swallowing and aiding the digestion system. Smoking, however, affects the saliva glands and can decrease the flow leading to dry mouth and even halitosis.
No one likes bad breath and the best remedy to combat it is to give up smoking. Your friends, loved ones and even your dentist will greatly appreciate it and you will soon notice the difference in your overall health.
It may surprise you to learn that whilst smoking is on the decrease, cancer of the mouth is on the increase with smoking and drinking alcohol being the biggest offenders of all. Oral cancer is particularly dangerous as it is difficult to detect in the early stages and does not usually cause any pain or discomfort until it starts to spread.
Here at Oakley Road Dental Practice, we would strongly advise that if you smoke you regularly check your own mouth in-between dental check-ups and if you suspect anything to contact us immediately. Symptoms to look out for include ulcers that are unable to heal. A constant sore throat. Lumps and nodules in the mouth. Red or white patches. Difficulty swallowing and moving your tongue. Numbness inside the mouth and swelling around the neck and jawline. And if you have not already been diagnosed with gum disease, then you should be aware of any unexplained loosening of the teeth.
National No Smoking Day – 14th March
We know that stopping smoking is not easy, but the benefits to your health will far outweigh the sacrifice. In fact, studies have shown that after a prolonged period of no smoking, you can achieve the same oral health as those who have never smoked at all.
If you are thinking about quitting, then there couldn’t be a better time to stop than on Wednesday 14th March – National No Smoking Day. Click here for the top 10 steps for stopping smoking. And don’t forget, if you have any concerns over your oral wellbeing, then please contact us today for an appointment and advice.