The Impact of Tobacco on Your Oral Health
You know that smoking is bad for your health, but do you know exactly how harmful the habit is for you? With over 15% of adults and nearly 20% of youth reporting to be current tobacco users, tobacco kills approximately 480,000 people each year in the United States alone. As 2 in 5 children are regularly exposed to tobacco smoke, it’s time to start taking the habit seriously.
Cigarettes and chewing tobacco are very harmful to your dental health. And while many of us know that tobacco products can cause bad breath, that’s only the beginning. Other potential oral health risks include the following:
- Reduced sense of taste and smell
- Stained teeth and tongue
- Gum disease
- Oral cancer
- Tooth loss
- Difficulty in correcting cosmetic dental issues
Even the use of smokeless tobacco products and exposure to secondhand smoke can all have a significant impact on your oral health. Children that have been exposed to tobacco smoke are at a higher risk for tooth decay.
Visiting your dental office can be an opportunity to screen for tobacco use and exposure while delivering an important message about protecting children and families from the effects of tobacco products.
Dental professionals play a critical role in identifying tobacco exposure as well as supporting cessation attempts. By helping smokers protect their children and families from harmful exposures, dental professionals are able to provide appropriate screening and resources for tobacco uses in as little as just a few minutes.
The majority of people who use tobacco, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaping devices, or chewing tobacco, picked up the habit in their teens. This is why educating and protecting our children from tobacco exposure is so important! Some habits, such as brushing your teeth twice a day, are great to keep. Other behaviors, such as smoking, can lead to a lifetime of addiction.
Quitting tobacco products is the only way to decrease your risk of all tobacco-related health complications. We recognize how addictive nicotine can be which is why it’s important to have a plan when you’re looking to quit. Identify your support network and write down your reasons for quitting to keep yourself accountable. Exercising, chewing gum, and keeping yourself occupied can help you remain successful in your attempts to quit.
Talk to your dentist today about the impacts of tobacco on your oral health and which healthy habits can best help you kick your addiction to the curb!