The Effects of Tobacco and Nicotine On Your Dental Health
Most of us know that nicotine and tobacco have a strong negative impact on our overall wellbeing but many of us forget or might be unaware of the risks using tobacco has on our oral health. From smoking cigars and cigarettes to using chewing tobacco, common nicotine products can greatly increase your risk for conditions such as periodontal disease and oral cancer. If you smoke or use nicotine in any form, be sure to let your dentist know so that your annual checkups can accommodate your lifestyle choices.
Periodontal Disease and Tobacco
Tobacco products are notorious for creating gingival irritation – especially when patients smoke cigars and cigarettes or use chewing tobacco. The reason the gingiva become inflamed is because tobacco products contain an array of ingredients that irritate soft tissue. For example, when smoking, the pulmonary system will become inflamed by the irritants in tobacco and the smoke produced by lit cigars and cigarettes. The same thing happens with our gums. Tobacco does contain carcinogens that do cause irritation and even contribute to malignancies.
Irritated gingiva, like lungs irritated by smoke, is more easily infected. Inflamed and infected gingiva lead to the development of periodontal (gum) disease. Gum disease is a major threat to one’s health and wellbeing – especially if it advances to an aggressive stage. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss and it is capable of destroying bones, gingiva, and teeth. By quitting smoking or using chewing tobacco, one can greatly reduce the risk of developing this condition.
Oral Cancer and Nicotine Use
Tobacco use increases a person’s risk for developing many types of malignancies – especially oral cancer. Like other varieties of cancer, oral cancer can be fatal if it metastasizes to other areas of the body. Annual oral examinations do involve oral cancer screenings but if you use tobacco, it is important to bring this up with your oral healthcare provider so that you can be screened very closely. If suspicious lesions are detected, you will be sent to an oral surgeon for biopsies and surgery, if necessary.
Call us today for questions or to reserve an appointment at Charlottesville Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Center.