Stop Smoking For Better Oral Health

Eliminating this harmful habit will significantly benefit your teeth and gums.

Adam Mohsen - HygienistNow the initial few weeks of the new year have passed, it’s maybe a good time to look at what we hope to change without the pressure of a ‘new year resolution’.  Changes in your lifestyle can be made at any time and are often more successful when we make them at a time most appropriate to ourselves.

One of the most popular resolutions that gets made is to stop smoking. Now that all the parties and events where you might have been tempted to smoke have passed, why not make an attempt to kick this habit now?

Why stop smoking?

Where do we start? As any hygienist or dentist at the AJ Dental Group in Woking will tell you, smoking can cause any number of oral health issues. Your general health can obviously be threatened too. Although on a team level, our prime role is to help you to look after your teeth and gums, we don’t want to see any of our patients suffering from illnesses such as lung or heart disease, and especially when it is largely preventable by stopping smoking.

How does it affect oral health?

Smoking can affect our teeth, gums and oral cavity in general in many different ways. Most tobacco products contain chemicals and some of these are known to be carcinogenic (potentially cancer causing). Especially if our gums are already unhealthy or where we have small lacerations, the irritation of smoke in our mouth may well lead to infections and can also lead to a slowing down of healing following a dental procedure.

There are two specific issues that are more likely to arise in smokers than in non smokers from a dental perspective though, and we look at these now.

Gum disease

Smokers are much more likely to suffer from gum disease than non smokers in general. The irritation factor is one of these reasons, but smokers also tend to have dry mouths. This makes it much easier for bacteria to thrive and multiply, leading to an increased risk of gingivitis and periodontitis, especially if we don’t have the best of cleaning regimes.

We will discuss the role of the dental hygienist in a moment. For now, whilst we recommend that most people see the hygienist on a six monthly basis, if you currently smoke, even if you are trying to cut down, we recommend that you see them perhaps every three or four months. This will help to manage and treat any gum disease that you might have.

Oral cancer

Although advanced gum disease can lead to tooth loss; even more devastating for most people is oral cancer. This is a serious disease that can kill. Where it is caught and treated, it can still have a significantly negative impact upon the quality of life of the sufferer. If not detected and treated early enough, patients may suffer from facial disfigurements and difficulty in swallowing and talking. The quicker the problem is caught, the sooner the treatment can be started which should lead to a more positive outcome.

Because the signs may not be instantly obvious to a patient, our Woking dental team have an important role to play in detecting possible indications of cancer during your six monthly check up.

In addition to checking your teeth and gums, we will also examine the soft tissues of the mouth, including the tongue and cheek. Because we are not qualified doctors, we can’t tell you if you have oral cancer or not, but what we can do is look for signs that possibly could indicate that. These include lesions, lumps, red or white patches in the mouth amongst other things. Where we notice anything that might give cause for concern, we will refer you to your  GP for further examination. In many cases, these will not be cancer but as early treatment is essential, it is better to have any issues checked professionally as soon as possible.

There are, of course, other benefits to not smoking including financial ones. With our simple home tooth whitening kit currently costing £325, it wouldn’t take long to save for this if you stopped smoking. A 20 a day smoker would probably spend around £12 a day on cigarettes so in less than a month, you could pay for this treatment if you stopped smoking.

Your friends will also probably thank you if you quit. Your breath is likely to improve and the stale smell of smoke that lingers in your clothes will also vanish as well.

As we mentioned earlier in this post, if you smoke, you should see the hygienist every three months. If you would like to make an appointment to see myself or any of our other Woking based hygienists, please call the AJ Dental Group today on 01483 766355 (Parkside) or 01932 352333 (Waterside).

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