Smokers – Why Your Smile Needs You To Quit!

Posted on Dec 13, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

The new year is right around the corner. For many Americans, we are contemplating New Year’s Resolutions. Common resolutions are losing weight, getting fit and to quit smoking. Quit-SmokingFor those who smoke, the beginning of a new year is a good place to reclaim their health.

If you smoke, however, you probably don’t feel like another lecture about its hazards. In our office, we pride ourselves on being a ‘lecture-free zone,’ so you won’t get one here. However, as a Periodontist, I probably have a better picture of what it’s doing inside your mouth so allow me a minute to give you that information. No lectures, though — promise.

When it comes to your smile, 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.

Smoking has a drying effect on oral tissues, which provide an ideal environment for oral bacteria to breed. As oral bacteria accumulate in the mouth, the infectious bacteria inflame the gum tissues. This is the beginning of gum disease.

In early stages, gum disease causes persistent bad breath, sore gums and gums that bleed easily when brushing. As it progresses, gum tissues darken in color and pus pockets form at the base of teeth. Eventually, oral bacteria attack supporting bone and tissues surrounding tooth roots, causing teeth to loosen. It’s no surprise that gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Losing teeth is very detrimental to your overall health. Although some people assume that losing natural teeth is a ‘normal’ part of the aging process, studies now show that people who wear dentures die an average of ten years earlier than those with natural teeth. Denture wearers take more medications, have more gastrointestinal problems and are less socially involved.

On average, smokers decrease life expectancy by 10–15 years. Smoking is attributed to nearly one-third of all cancer diseases and deaths. Pregnant women who smoke have an increased risk for first-trimester spontaneous abortion, preterm births, low birth weight babies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Women who smoke are at risk for early menopause while men who smoke have a higher risk of impotency.

For those who decide to kick the habit, the positive effects are almost immediate. In 48 hours, damaged nerve endings start to regrow. The sense of smell and taste begin to return to normal. In 3 days, the lungs begin to repair and breathing is easier and with fuller air intake. Within 2 weeks, blood circulation in your gums and teeth is similar to that of a non-smoker. Your heart attack risk is now also declining. In a month or so, your circulation greatly improves, walking is easier and your chronic cough is gone.

The incentive to quit, for some adults, is because they realize their loved ones are breathing in their ‘second-hand smoke.’ Second hand smoke contains no less than 50 known carcinogens and other harmful chemicals. Children of smoking parents commonly wake up with ‘smoker’s cough.’

Rather than lecture, we believe it is more helpful to share the facts so adults can choose as they feel best. Some smokers accept the risks for the sake of their habit, and that’s their right. However, for those who truly wish to overcome this addiction, there are excellent online sources.

A good one is:

Best of luck in your 2017 goals!

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