If You Smoke, Your Smile Takes The First Hit.

Posted on Nov 06, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

First, let me assure you that this article is NOT a lecture about the health hazards associated with smoking cigarettes. We assume you’ve heard many of those statistics and warnings before.

Signs of gum disease

However, as a Periodontist, I would be remiss if I didn’t begin by sharing the rather unique view I have of what it does to the inside of an adult mouth. With this in mind, I’ll share some perspectives you may not know.

When it comes to a smile, be aware that smokers have a greater risk of periodontal (gum) disease, more frequent bad breath, higher plaque levels, stained teeth, and slower healing following extractions, gum treatment and oral surgery.

The primary reason for this is because smoking has a drying effect on oral tissues. Without moisture that moves bacteria out of the mouth, this creates an ideal breeding environment for oral bacteria.

As oral bacteria reproduce and multiply in the mouth, the bacteria become infectious and inflame gum tissues. This is the beginning of gum disease. In the initial stage, known as gingivitis, symptoms include frequent bad breath, tender gums, and gum tissues that bleed easily when brushing.

As it progresses, bad breath becomes persistent, gum tissues turn red, and pus pockets form at the base of some teeth. Eventually, this potent bacteria attack bone structures that support teeth and tissues surrounding tooth roots. This causes teeth to loosen and can lead to the need for tooth removal.

Gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. You may be surprised to learn that losing teeth is highly detrimental to your overall health. Studies show that people who wear dentures die ten years earlier than those with natural teeth, on average. Denture wearers take more medications, have more gastrointestinal problems, and are less socially active.

Smoking is also attributed to nearly a third of all cancer diseases and deaths. Pregnant women who smoke have a greater risk for first-trimester spontaneous abortion, preterm births, low birth weight babies (under 5.5 lbs) and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Women who smoke are risk having early menopause while men who smoke are at higher risk of impotency.

On average, smokers decrease life expectancy by 10–15 years. That’s pretty scary. As hard as it is, kicking the habit is well worth the benefits, which can be obvious almost immediately. These often include:

• Immediately: You halt the contribution of ‘second-hand smoke,’ which puts at least 50 carcinogens and other harmful chemicals in the air. If you have children, you’ll eliminate them waking up with ‘smoker’s cough.’
• Within 2 days: The sense of smell and taste return and damaged nerve endings begin to regenerate.
• Within 3 days: Breathing becomes easier with fuller air intake as the lungs start to repair.
• Within 2 weeks: Blood circulation in the gums is restored. The risk of heart attack declines.
• Within 6 weeks: Overall circulation has improved, walking has become easier and your chronic cough has cleared.

In our periodontal dental office, we don’t lecture our patients. We respect them and work with each on an individual basis. Our goal is to help you keep your smile in good shape, keep your natural teeth, and avoid the hazards of periodontal disease.

For those who have lost natural teeth, a periodontist has advanced training in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants in addition to the treatment of all stages of gum disease.

If you are experiencing signs associated with periodontal disease, the condition will only worsen without treatment. The earlier you treat gum disease, the less-involved treatment will be. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule an initial appointment. It is not necessary to be referred.


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