Thursday, November 16th, is the GREAT AMERICAN SMOKE OUT!

This annual awareness day is the perfect time to think about the affect smoking has on your oral health and if you are a smoker, pick this as the day you quit!

Most people are aware that smoking is bad for their overall health and that it is a cause of lung and other organ cancers. However, many people don’t recognize the damage that smoking does to their oral health. People who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque, which leads to gum disease.

The gums are affected because smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, so the infected gums don’t heal. Smoking causes people to have more dental plaque and causes gum disease to get worse more quickly than in non-smokers. Gum disease is still the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. Smoking is also estimated to be the cause of a huge percentage of oral cancers. Smokers are 6-times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-smokers.

In addition to contributing to cases of oral cancers, smoking also causes a number of other oral health issues such as gum disease by affecting the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth. More specifically, it appears that smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells. This interference makes smokers more susceptible to infections, such as periodontal disease, and also seems to impair blood flow to the gums – which may affect wound healing.

According to results of a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, smokers experience tooth loss and alveolar bone loss (bone loss within the jawbone that anchors teeth) at a much higher rate than non-smokers. Pipe smokers also have a similar risk of tooth loss as cigarette smokers. Beyond these risks, smokers are at an increased risk for oral and pharyngeal (throat) cancers.

There are many resources to assist in stopping smoking. Some are:

This November make your smoking a thing of the past. Five years after stopping smoking, your risk of developing oral cancers is reduced by 50%.

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