This is old news by now, but we see patients each week who are waiting for the right time to act on what they know: smoking (and tobacco generally) is dangerous for your health. Smoking contributes to heart and lung disease and it’s an issue that isn’t being resolved with better treatments or medications. If you’ve been a long-time smoker, stop telling yourself the “damage is already done,” because there are benefits to quitting today. Within just a few hours your body begins to heal and your oxygen saturation starts to increase! And the benefits are exponential from that point forward.
As your oral health care professionals, we actually see signs and symptoms of your health before you’re even aware of them. Trying to get pregnant? A patient’s gums often signal the hormonal changes of pregnancy before a woman even misses a period! Our hygienists can spot early pregnancy often based on gums alone! And even if you tell us you don’t smoke, we see the evidence: red, swollen, bleeding gums are often among the first signs of gingivitis. And gingivitis is tied closely to tobacco use.
Smoking is known to suppress your body’s ability to ward off infection. Your immune system doesn’t function as well on tobacco, which leaves your gums more susceptible to infection as well. And oral infections can leave to more severe problems in your mouth. Other issues smokers face include:
- Tooth loss: Based partly on that propensity for gingivitis and infection, smokers face twice the tooth loss of non-smokers. That’s more cost associated with dental care to replace those lost teeth too! If you’d like to keep your teeth for a lifetime, stop smoking today. Otherwise, be ready for damaged, sore, and eventually missing teeth and the oral surgery that follows.
- Infected tooth roots: Aside from the issues related to infection itself, these tooth root issues mean more hot/cold sensitivity problems. If you enjoy soup, ice cream, coffee, or watermelon, quit smoking today. They’ll be harder to enjoy as each year passes and your tooth sensitivity increases.
- Halitosis: You just can’t get around the lingering effect of smoking on the breath. No mint, gum, paste, or spray can mask the effect of tobacco on oral tissues. If you’d like to have pleasant breath that doesn’t betray an unhealthy habit, quit smoking today.
- Healing time: Partly due to lack of oxygenation and partly due to the suppressed immune response, smokers don’t heal as quickly from any kind of accident or injury. This is true of tooth extractions, oral surgery, and other dental procedures. If you plan on aging at all, you’ll have procedures. If you plan on being comfortable after those procedures and healing quickly, you’ll need to stop smoking right now today.
- Tooth color: Tobacco stains teeth. Stained teeth make you appear to be less healthy, less well-taken-care-of, and less friendly. We think you’re awesome. We want your smile to show it.
And for those dental reasons alone, we urge you to consider a smoking cessation program in 2016. Visit Tobacco Free Florida at http://www.tobaccofreeflorida.com/quit-kit/ to get your Quit Kit and to get on the road to a tobacco-free, healthier, more robust 2016!