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This three-part article series takes an in-depth exploration of the short and long term effects of tobacco addiction upon your oral health.
We have so far, in this three-part article series, (1) discussed the impact of smoking on your oral health and (2) provided some recommendations for proper oral health and hygiene care for smokers. In this, the final installment of the series, the dentist in Arlington TX will be answering some of the questions frequently asked about oral health and smoking.
Question: What kind of oral problems does smoking cause?
The Dentist in Arlington TX Answers: Smoking has significant short and long term consequences for oral health and hygiene. These include:
• Bad breath, or halitosis
• Tooth staining and discoloration
• Inflammation of the soft tissues in the mouth, says the dentist in Arlington TX
• Xerostomia, or ‘dry mouth’
• Accelerated accumulation of plaque and tartar
• Increased risk of oral and throat cancer
• Increased risk of oral bacterial infection and periodontal (gum) disease
• Tooth loss
• Bone loss in the jaw, warns the dentist in Arlington TX
• Delayed post-operative healing and a compromised immune system
• Lower success of tooth replacement procedures (dental implants)
Question: How does smoking cause gum disease?
The Dentist in Arlington TX Answers: Smoking increases your risk of developing acute and chronic bacterial infections of the gums in many different ways. First of all, it retards the production of saliva in the mouth, which is your body’s natural defense against bacteria. Smoking also impedes healthy blood circulation to the gums, explains the dentist in Arlington TX, which slows healing while increasing the risk of infection. In general, this habit interferes with the normal functioning of soft tissue cells. Combined with an increase in oral bacterial infection, smokers are left at a much greater risk of periodontal (gum) disease.
Question: What about cigar and pipe-smoking? Are they as bad for your teeth and gums as cigarettes?
The Dentist in Arlington TX Answers: Any kind of tobacco-smoking or chewing is a danger to your oral health. The Journal of the American Dental Association published the results of a 23-year long study, which indicated that cigar smokers experience the same rate of alveolar bone loss and tooth loss as cigarette-smokers. In addition to this, says the dentist in Arlington TX, smokers of pipes, cigars and cigarettes alike are all at the same risk of pharyngeal and oral cancers, as well as tooth discoloration, halitosis and periodontal (gum) disease. And this applies even if you don’t inhale the smoke as is frequently the case with cigar-tokers.
Question: Aren’t smokeless tobacco products safer for you?
The Dentist in Arlington TX Answers: Just like cigarettes and cigars, smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco and snuff, contain a whole lot of chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus. In fact, says the dentist in Arlington TX, many chewing tobacco products contain greater amounts of nicotine than cigarettes! This not only makes it more dangerous for people to enjoy, but also more addictive. One tin of snuff delivers more nicotine than three standard packets of cigarettes!
Other reasons to stay away from snuff and chewing tobacco include:
• They irritate the gum tissue, says the dentist in Arlington TX, causing it to become inflamed and to recede abnormally from the crowns of the teeth. This exposes the vulnerable roots underneath, which not only contributes to an unaesthetic smile, but is also very dangerous for the health of the tooth as a whole.
• Exposed roots provide opportunities for bacteria to migrate deep down into the gums, increasing the risk of infection and disease.
• Exposed roots are also more sensitive to temperature extremes, explains the dentist in Arlington TX.
• Chewing tobacco contains quite a bit of sugar, which causes tooth decay. The American Dental Association found that people who chewed tobacco were four times more susceptible to decay than those that didn’t.
• Smokeless tobacco contains grit and sand, says the dentist in Arlington TX, which contributes to the erosion of your dental enamel.
Question: How can I quit using tobacco?
The Dentist in Arlington TX Answers: Tobacco-use is not only a physical addiction; it’s a psychological one too. As such, different people will experience greater success using different methods to kick the habit. Here are some tips from the dentist in Arlington TX. Singularly, they may not prove to be effective, but used together will certainly help you cope with the various stages of physical and psychological withdrawal. At the end of the day, says the dentist in Arlington TX, you must quit for you and for your health.
• Set a date to quit and stick to it. Try to co-ordinate this date with a period of low stress.
• Tell your co-workers, family members and friends about your initiative to quit smoking, advise the dentist in Arlington TX; even if you are afraid that you may fail. Their help and support will prove crucial.
• Ask the doctor or dentist in Arlington TX about any nicotine replacement products that may help with the initial withdrawal symptoms. There are even certain medications designed to help people quit, but don’t use these without your doctor’s advice.
• Remove all evidence of your past addiction from your car, office and home. These include lighters, ashtrays, cigarette boxes and, of course, tobacco!
• Develop new routines that take you away from the places you use to go and smoke, says the dentist in Arlington TX. For example, go to a different coffee shop during lunch break, avoid the pub while you’re in the throes of breaking away from the addiction and start getting out more. Get away from your old life for a bit, advises the dentist in Arlington TX. Gym more often, go on walks, go to the movies and stay away from smoke-friendly environments. Exercise! It’ll make you feel alive!
• When those craving come crashing in, practice the four D’s:
i. Delay: cravings usually pass in five to ten minutes.
ii. Drink water: this can actually satiate your cravings. It’s also very good for you!
iii. Do something else: distract yourself and keep yourself busy.
iv. Deep breathing: relax and center yourself. Oxygenate your body.