Tobacco and Your Mouth
By Mina Levi, DDS, 05/28/2015
It is common knowledge that smoking and other tobacco use causes health problems such as lung cancer. However, not many people are aware of the dental and oral health implications of tobacco use such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, and smokeless tobacco. In this week’s article, San Francisco dentist Mina Levi, DDS talks about dental and oral health concerns that are affected by tobacco use.
What are the dental problems that are caused by tobacco use?
· Increases risk of oral cancer – a disease that rapidly progresses and is often not diagnosed until the later stages III and IV, causing it to have a high death rate. See more about oral cancer here.
· Increases risk of gum disease, which is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the United States today.
· Causes bad breath.
· Causes buildup of tartar or dental plaque on the teeth, which if not cleaned professionally will cause tooth decay.
· Causes staining on the teeth causing them to turn yellow or brown in color and cannot be cleaned with a regular toothbrush – staining will need to be removed at a San Francisco dental office.
· Causes damage to gum tissue and causes receding gums, which leaves the roots of the teeth exposed to “the elements”. This increases sensitivity and also increases the risk of tooth decay.
· Slows down gum healing, so if you have an oral surgery procedure done or you cut your gums, the healing time will slow down and an infection can occur more easily.
Quitting tobacco use is essential in ensuring future and present health and can provide long term health benefits. There are many different ways to quit using tobacco, such as:
· “Cold turkey”: quitting all tobacco use without the help of any chemical or medical remedy
· Nicotine patches/gum: nicotine patches and gum provide the tobacco user with small amounts of nicotine which is the addictive property in tobacco products. This can help reduce cravings for cigarettes and other tobacco products as the nicotine is being replaced. However, the use of the gum and patches will also need to cease eventually because nicotine can have negative health implications as well.
· Psychotherapy: therapy with a psychologist or psychiatrist can help a person mentally achieve overcoming the addiction and can provide self-control strategies. Therapy is also good for your overall mental well being and should be included in your regular health program.
If you have questions about how tobacco products such as cigarettes and chewing tobacco can affect your teeth and mouth, or if you have concerns about quitting tobacco use, visit Dentist San Francisco Mina Levi, DDS on the web at www.minalevidds.com or give us a call at (415) 513-5066.
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