It’s not new news that smoking and other tobacco products can lead to advanced gum disease. In fact, half of gum disease in smokers is caused by smoking, meaning tobacco plays a huge role in its development. Tobacco products can also increase the speed of which gum disease advances. So if you smoke, your dental issues will likely continue to get worse. This is because smokers have deep gum pockets and advanced bone loss when compared to nonsmokers. In short, not only does smoking increase the chance that you will experience periodontal disease, but it’s important to treat early as its severity will develop in a shorter amount of time.
So what is gum disease anyway? Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection that damages gums and destroys the jawbone. Caused by bacteria growth, gum disease starts by forming pockets around the teeth. Initial symptoms include swollen, red and tender gums. As plaque continues to form, soft tissue and bone will start breaking down. The gums will keep pulling away from the teeth, the pockets will deepen and then the supporting structures will be destroyed. At this point tooth pain, loose teeth and even tooth loss is expected.
But it doesn’t stop there. Smoking and other tobacco products bring a multitude of other oral problems, including:
• Bad breath
• Stained teeth (tooth discoloration), including tongue
• Plaque and tartar build up
• Bone jaw loss
• White patches in mouth (leukoplakia)
• Tooth loss
• Slow healing inside mouth
• Dulled sense of taste and smell
• Difficulties in correcting cosmetic dental problems
• Low success rate of dental implant procedures
• Increased risk of oral cancer
• Advanced gum disease
Generally, gum disease is treatable. Treatment usually includes professional cleaning while advanced cases require surgery. But without quitting smoking first, it’s nearly impossible to treat. Your dentist’s office is a good place to turn for help. Schedule an appointment to find out more about quitting assistance. Once there, you can ask for more information on the dangers that tobacco has on your oral health.