As a risk factor, few things can touch tobacco use, which finds itself at the top of the list for a number of serious health issues that range from heart disease to lung disease. In fact, tobacco use is blamed for about 20% of deaths in the United States.
As dental experts who offer services that cover most areas of your oral health, Dr. Chang Yi, Dr. Negar Tehran and the rest of the team at Aura Dentistry want to take this opportunity to highlight the damage that tobacco use can inflict, giving you a few more reasons to quit.
Letting numbers tell the story
To underscore the risks you’re facing, oral health-wise, when you use tobacco, we’re going to use numbers to illustrate the magnitude of the problem. Please note that we refer to the factor as tobacco use rather than smoking because we’re including smokeless tobacco use here, which includes chewing tobacco and vaping.
Now, let’s get to some numbers that the CDC has pulled together:
- People who smoke are three times more likely to lose all of their teeth
- 43% of smokers aged 65 or older have lost all of their teeth
- 40% of smokers between the ages of 20 and 64 have untreated tooth decay
More seriously, there will be nearly 55,000 diagnoses of oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer in the United States this year and tobacco use is a leading risk factor.
How tobacco use affects your oral health
Now that we’ve drawn your attention with numbers, let's step back and review how, exactly, tobacco use can lead to such poor oral health.
First and foremost, the use of tobacco lowers your immune system’s ability to fight off infection — everywhere in your body. In your mouth, this plays out in the form of gum disease and tooth decay, each of which is caused by harmful bacteria eating away at your tissues. When you smoke, you suppress your immune system, leaving it less able to fight back against these bacteria and infections.
Second, tobacco use can damage your blood vessels, leaving them weaker and more prone to plaque buildup. As a result, your blood flow is compromised, as is your access to regenerative and healing resources that benefit the tissues in your mouth.
When it comes to oral cancers, the effect is more direct — pathogens in tobacco can lead directly to the formation of cancerous cells.
Backing down from these serious issues, tobacco use also leads to more minor issues, such as bad breath and stained teeth.
As you can see, there’s absolutely no upside to tobacco use where your health is concerned, including your oral health.
We understand that quitting is easier said than done, but we wanted to give you just a little more motivation to get started. For some great tobacco cessation resources, simply click here.
If you have more questions about how tobacco use can negatively impact your oral health, feel free to contact our office in McLean, Virginia, at 703-429-0770 to schedule a consultation or request an appointment online.