Are you a smoker living in Hendricks County? You’re probably already aware of the dangers associated with smoking to your lungs, but did you know that it can also affect your oral health?
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states smokers are four times more likely to have poor oral heath compared to people who have never smoked. Plus, smokers are twice as likely to have three or more oral health problems.
Some oral health problems caused by smoking and tobacco use include:
- Bad breath
- Tooth discoloration
- Increased plaque and tartar build up on your teeth
- Inflammation of the salivary gland openings on the roof of your mouth
- Increased bone loss within your jaw
- Increased risk of leukoplakia, white or gray patches that develop on the tongue, inside of the check or on the floor of your mouth
- Delayed healing following tooth extraction or other oral surgery
- Increased risk of gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss
However, the greatest risk of smoking and tobacco use is oral cancer, which includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses and throat. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, 90% of oral cancer patients use tobacco. Oral cancer can be life threatening if it’s not diagnosed and treated early.
The best way to reduce the risk of oral health problems is to quit smoking. In fact, a study found that smokers with gum disease who quit smoking experienced a significant improvement in their gum disease within one year of quitting.
November 21 is the Great American Smokeout in the U.S., and that includes Hendricks County. Use this date to make a plan to quit smoking and implement it. Some things you can do to stop smoking include:
- Determining if you’ll use nicotine replacement medications
- Attending smoking cessation classes
- Using oral substitutes like gum, hard candy or carrot sticks
- Setting up a support system
- Getting rid of all cigarettes and ashtrays
- Avoiding situations where the urge to smoke is strong
- Avoiding people who smoke
Whether you decide to stop smoking or not, make sure you visit Dr. Erickson at Danville Family Dentistry in Hendricks County twice a year for checkups. Per the CDC, smokers are twice as likely, compared to former smokers or people who have never smoked, to have not had a dental visit in over five years or to have never had a dental visit. By coming to see Dr. Erickson, he can take a look at the state of your gums and check for signs of oral cancer, as well as make treatment recommendations to help keep your mouth as healthy as possible.