Smoker or non-smoker, we all know that the use of tobacco is nothing but bad for your health. Smoking causes 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But your oral health is also at great risk when you use tobacco. In fact, 90% of people diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat are tobacco users. If you haven’t already gotten help to quit, you should seriously consider it today.
How Smoking and Tobacco Products Impact Oral Health
- Increased Risk of Oral Cancer
- Higher risk of periodontal disease
- Increased risk of infection
- Gum irritation and receding
- Bad Breath
- Tooth Discoloration
- Increased plaque and tar build-up
- Slower healing process after dental procedures
- Damage to tooth enamel making you more vulnerable to cavities
The most dangerous risk of smoking and tobacco on your mouth is Oral Cancer. If you smoke and/or use tobacco products it is important to be aware of the warning signs and be vigilant in watching for them. Oral cancer includes cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate, sinuses and throat.
Leukoplakia is a condition of the mouth where white patches form on the inside of the cheek, on the gums or around the inside of the mouth. It is commonly found in people who smoke and use tobacco products. It can also lead to cancer, so if you suspect you see evidence of Leukoplakia it is important to make and appointment with us immediately! From there we will determine possible treatment and may refer you for further testing. Keep an eye out for:
- White or gray patches
- Spots with an irregular texture (different feeling than the rest of the mouth tissue)
- Hardened or thickened areas in the mouth
- Raised red lesions
Sometimes mouth sores occur, but are not harmful, at other times they are the symptoms of more serious problems so it’s important to see us to be advised on how to move forward. Oral Cancer often develops near leukoplakia patches, even if they’ve been removed, so monitoring is important. Sometimes quitting smoking and tobacco use is all that’s needed to reduce or eliminate leukoplakia. At other times treatment is needed.
Other Symptoms of Oral Cancer
- Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
- Numbness or tenderness on the face, mouth or neck
- The feeling of something being caught in the back of your throat
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- Difficulty speaking or moving the jaw and tongue
- Chronically sore throat or unexplained vocal changes
- An unexpected change in the way your dentures fit
- Dramatic Weight loss
Checking for signs of oral cancer is part of your regular dental check-up. Because of the increased risk for smokers it is vital that you maintain regular appointments so we can help keep watch for signs of serious conditions.
Take Care of Your Oral Health Needs
If you are a smoker or regular user of tobacco products, it’s never too late to make a change. Quitting the habit will definitely be challenging but the health and oral benefits are well worth it. If quitting isn’t on the horizon, then a good oral hygiene routine is imperative. Make sure you are brushing twice a day, flossing, and regularly coming to see us for cleanings and checkups. Dental cleaning provides a deeper clean than can be done at home and is especially important.
To make an appointment with us, please call (979) 968-9451 or click here.