Kick the Tobacco Habit to Improve Your Oral Health

Recognizing World No Tobacco Day, May 31, 2011

No Smoke

Tobacco consumption comes in many forms: cigarettes, cigars, pipes, snuff and chews. While most Americans recognize that tobacco usage is addictive and unhealthy, they may not consider the potential dangers to their oral health or the risk of oral or other cancers.

Crusty Plaque on Your Teeth
Individuals who smoke have a higher incidence of developing calculus on their teeth – a tough plaque that can only be removed during a professional cleaning at the dental office. Calculus tends to develop in deep pockets between teeth and gums, resulting in the loss of bone and the tissue that is critical to supporting the teeth. If you have calculus, your dentist has probably recommended more frequent cleanings to help keep it at bay.

Did you know that tobacco use can create these oral health concerns?

  • Mouth sores
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Bad breath
  • Discoloration of teeth
  • Decreased ability to taste or smell

Cancer Risks

  • When oral cancer is detected in its advanced stages, only 60% of patients survive longer than
    5 years
  • Between 40-60% of smokeless tobacco users have a lesion in the mouth where tobacco is stored, usually formed within a few months of use
  • Use of cigarettes, pipes and cigars pose a similar risk for cancer
  • Smokeless tobacco products also can cause oral and other cancers, as well as stroke and heart attack
  • Even worse, the World Health Organization (founder of the World No Tobacco Day) warns that 5 million people still die from tobacco use every year (1 death every 6 seconds) and 600,000 people die each year from second-hand inhalation

Importance of Dental Care

For the sake of your long-term oral health and to minimize the risk of oral cancer (and possible death), the best solution is to stop using tobacco. In addition, routine dental exams can help detect tobacco-related illnesses of the oral cavity in the early stages when it’s more curable. Your dentist can probably tell if you smoke or not, but if you have not quit, you may want to mention it to your dentist just in case.

If you use tobacco, how often do you schedule dental appointments for cleanings and checkups? Have you experienced any oral health concerns? – Scott Delisi, Ameritas Group