Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? Is to stop smoking one of them? If so, you will be one of many thousands who attempt to do this each year. Some will succeed while others will fail to maintain it for very long and there are good reasons for this. Apart from the fact that it is often a social habit and one that is sometimes influenced by our peer group, cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance that can lead to withdrawal symptoms when we deprive our bodies of it by not smoking.
Unfortunately, by not keeping up our pledge to quit smoking, we put our health at risk. Smoking has long been associated with heart and lung diseases amongst other things but it can also have a significant negative impact on our oral health as well.
There are three key areas where smoking affects our oral cavity and our Addlestone dentists discuss these below.
Let us start with the least serious of the problems that smoking can cause. We see many patients at the Sync Dental Centres who have teeth that have been stained through years of smoking. The tar in cigarettes is a sticky substance and will stick to the surface enamel of our teeth. Over time this starts to discolour them and can lead to anything from a light yellow to a dark brown appearance depending on the extent of your smoking habit. Although stopping smoking won’t reverse this discolouration, it will mean that it won’t get any worse. Once you are satisfied that you have successfully stopped for good, you might wish to consider rewarding yourself with the money you will save by having the whiteness of your teeth restored with one of our cosmetic dental treatments.
Depending on the extent of discolouration, your teeth can be whitened using a teeth whitening procedure; either a fast acting one done ‘in clinic’ or a custom home whitening kit. Both offer excellent results and the choice is often down to your own preferences. For more badly discoloured teeth, dental veneers may prove to be a better option. We will be able to advise following an examination of your teeth.
Having discoloured teeth won’t affect their health providing that you clean them well. Having gum disease, on the other hand, can definitely have a significant impact on your teeth. Although gum disease is often associated with bleeding of the gums when you brush, it can also lead to tooth loss if it is allowed to advance too far.
The truth is that gum disease is largely preventable and even in the earlier stages can be treated and managed effectively with regular scale and polishing of the teeth. One of the best ways to minimise the risk of gum disease is to stop smoking. Smoking is a contributory factor that leads to a growth in the number of potentially harmful oral bacteria due to a dry mouth. By stopping smoking, you will find that your oral health starts to improve quite quickly. You will probably also discover that your breath smells fresher too.
As part of your regular examinations at our Addlestone dental clinic, we check not only the teeth and gums but other soft tissues in the oral cavity such as the tongue and cheeks. We are looking for signs that really shouldn’t be there. These include the likes of bumps, red patches and lesions of the tissue. Sometimes there are logical explanations such as perhaps burning your mouth. Sometimes though, these can also be indicators of potential cancer tumours.
As we are not experts in this field, we will advise you to have any concerning signs checked by your GP. It may well turn out to be nothing to worry about, but it is certainly better to be safe than sorry. This also allows for treatment to start earlier where it is detected and this is likely to produce a better outcome than if left until the cancer has advanced further.
Although perhaps not one of the most widely known types of cancers, oral, or mouth, cancer can be debilitating and even deadly and by stopping smoking, you will greatly reduce your risk.
Oral health is important and care of your teeth and gums is multifaceted. Stopping smoking is a very important step towards having a healthy mouth as is eating a tooth friendly diet, good brushing and flossing and regular examinations at our dental clinic. We are always available to offer advice or answer any questions that you might have about your oral health. To arrange an appointment at the Sync Dental Centres, please call our reception team on 01932 856541.