The Oral Risk Of Smoking & Smokeless Tobacco

 In General

Smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products is still quite common in the United States. Also common are the deaths related to tobacco use, topping off at over 480,000 people in the last year, including 42,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. Statistics show that about 17% of American adults smoke cigarettes. While the number of tobacco users has slowly dropped in recent years, there are still many people picking up cigarettes for the first time! We know it’s hard to quit smoking, but we believe with the right information and resources can help our patients successfully quit, as well as improve their oral and overall health!

Using tobacco products cause damage to almost every organ in your body.

Smoking and using tobacco products doesn’t just affect your lungs, it actually has an impact throughout your entire body. The three most affected areas are your lungs, throat and mouth. The most common of these damaging side effects being lung cancer, pharyngeal cancer and oral cancer. Our dentists witness first hand the damage that tobacco products can cause to patients. In fact, oral cancer isn’t only oral impact that tobacco products have on users.

There are far more oral side effects other than just cancer!

Patients seem to think that oral cancer is one of the only major side effects that tobacco products have on their mouth’s health. This misconception is incredibly false. In fact, based on information from the American Dental Association (ADA), tobacco products cause a variety of oral side effects in users, including bad breath, stained teeth, discoloration of the tongue, scratches on enamel, periodontal (gum) disease, tissue and bone loss around the teeth, a dulled sense of taste (and smell), slowed down oral healing, and even cosmetic dental complications. That is only naming a few!

“Aren’t smokeless tobacco products less dangerous to my health?”

Some tobacco users argue that smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, cause less damage to the body because they’re not inhaled as smoke. While it may not be inhaled, smokeless tobacco products are proven to also cause oral cancer, as well as other diseases. In fact, smokeless tobacco contains many toxins, which are known to cause periodontal disease, which affects the whole body through the Oral Systemic Link.

“The number of users are dropping, so it won’t be an issue in the near future, right?”

Although it is true that the number of tobacco users is slowly dropping over the years, it doesn’t mean that the habit will be completely kicked by society any time soon. Based on studies done by the Center of Disease Control (CDC), every day about 3,200 Americans under the age of 18 smoke their very first cigarette, with about 2,100 of them becoming daily smokers over time. In fact, if smoking continues at the current rate among American youth under the age of 18, it is estimated that over 5.6 million of them are expected to die prematurely from smoking-related illnesses. This averages out to being about one out of every thirteen Americans under the age of 18 who are alive today.

“At this point, is quitting even a feasible option?”

We want all of our patients who smoke to know that quitting is always an option! Just within the first 24 hours of quitting your risk of a heart attack drops significantly. Within two to three weeks of quitting both your circulation and lung functions will improve drastically. One month after quitting your lungs will even begin to repair themselves! After an entire year without smoking, your risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease is cut completely in half. Smokers who kick the habit for 15 years or more, lower their heart disease and stroke risk to the same level as someone who had never smoked before. Based on statistics from the American Heart Association, those who quit smoking live an average of 14 years longer than those who continue living with the habit. We believe these are reasons that make quitting worth it for daily smokers.

Many habitual smokers kept up the habit for years, if not decades. Due to the amount of nicotine in cigarettes, quitting this addictive habit is usually a hard feat! However, we believe that all of our patients deserve access to the information and resources that give them the opportunity to break such a habit. About 69% of daily smokers want to break the habit of smoking tobacco products and 43% of them have attempted to quit in the past year alone! We know that some of our patients fall into those statistics. That’s why we want to do everything we can to help them kick the habit of smoking and begin to restore their oral and overall health! For more information on how you or your loved one can quit smoking today, please feel free to contact us.

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