How Does Smoking Affect Your Gums?

If you’re a smoker, you know you should stop. Family, friends, medical professionals, and strangers, there’s no shortage of people that tell you that you’re killing yourself, wasting time and money, and that you know that you shouldn’t smoke. Those are just some of the many phrases that you might hear as you are trying to enjoy your cigarette at work or in other limited public places where smoking is still allowed.

The truth is that nothing good happens from smoking. No one has ever been told to keep using tobacco because it is helping them instead of harming.

On the flip side, if you’re a tobacco user, you probably want to quit. It was a bad choice you made earlier in life and now it is difficult to stop. You can watch commercials and read the side of a box of cigarettes, and find out about the side effects of this dirty habit. Maybe you need one more reason to quit.

Did you know that using tobacco of any kind is terrible for your oral health? It doesn’t matter if you smoke tobacco in cigarettes, cigars or chew tobacco, smoking puts you at risk for permanent oral damage, especially to your gums. How does smoking affect your gums? Let’s take a look.

Some of the dental problems that result from smoking include:

  • Bad breath
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Inflammation of the salivary gland openings on the roof of the mouth
  • Increased build up of plaque and tartar on the teeth
  • Increased loss of bone within the jaw
  • Increased risk of leukoplakia, white patches inside the mouth
  • Increased risk of developing gum disease, a leading cause of tooth loss
  • Delayed healing process following tooth extraction, periodontal treatment, or oral surgery
  • Lower success rate of dental implant procedures
  • Increased risk of developing oral cancer

When you think about it, your mouth gets the worst hit from tobacco use. All of the chemicals are entering your mouth first, without any filtration. As it’s processes through your body, it tries to break down the thousands of chemicals ingested, but your mouth has no defense. Tobacco affects how the gum tissue cells regenerate and can lead to infections including periodontal disease and decreases blood flow to the gums, which affects wound healing.

There is no safe tobacco when it comes to oral health. Cigarettes, cigars, snuff and chewing tobacco can all lead to issues with your mouth and throat. There’s no question now, as we have more than 50 years of clinical study proving how damaging tobacco is for your body, and particularly your teeth, gums, tongue and mouth.

Take steps now to quit smoking. If you would like to stop smoking, but don’t know what to do, try setting a quit date and make it known to your family and friends. Then, when the quit date arrives, have your plan of action prepared (nicotine gum, patches, or lozenges; carrot sticks; avoiding caffeine, etc.) and be read to for urges. The first week is tough, but it does get easier. If you have urges you can’t fight, remember: this is a small price to pay for a long-term payoff. Being an ex-tobacco user is a great feeling of accomplishment and completely worth the struggle.

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