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The Effects of Tobacco Use on Your Oral Health

Ann Arbor Dentist

Tobacco use increases your likelihood of developing lung cancer and it causes many diseases like oral cancer and periodontal (gum) disease. Among adults, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. Tobacco use includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes (including hookah), and chewing tobacco. No matter what form of tobacco you use, it negatively affects your mouth.

If quitting is out of the question for you, visiting your dentist regularly will immensely help in maintaining your teeth and preventing further problems. However, the best thing to do for those who want a healthy mouth is to stop using tobacco.

The Risks
Using tobacco increases the amount of tartar, hardened plaque also known as calculus, that builds up on your teeth. The problem is, tartar cannot be removed by brushing and flossing, even with the added benefit of a fluoride mouthwash. It can only be removed by a dental professional. Dentists have to use ultrasonic tools and specialized instruments to clean off excess calculus.

Aside from staining your teeth, tartar also contains bacteria that infects your gums and destroys the attachment fibers ofyour teeth. Left unattended, these bacteria will erode bone and gum tissue until your teeth loosen and fall out.

Continued tobacco use hides the symptoms commonly associated with periodontal disease, making it significantly harder to detect and treat. Tobacco use decreases the amount of oxygen and nutrients sent to your gum and bones, which is what thwarts the healing process.

Tobacco use also suppresses your immune system in your mouth making it easier for dental diseases and bacteria to flourish. It also causes bad breath, cancer, loss of smell and taste, a hairy black tongue and mouth sores and spots.

How We Can Help

There are four main ways your dentist can help combat the negative effects of tobacco use: teeth cleanings, gum disease treatments, oral cancer screenings, and teeth whitening. All of these treatments are more effective if you stop using tobacco. This way your teeth and gums are not continually damaged.

Teeth whitening can help brighten your smile that was discolored by tobacco use. However, this may not last long if you continue to use tobacco. Other whitening options like porcelain veneers and dental bonding can help, but continued tobacco use will discolor them also.

Oral cancer affects tens of thousands of Americans each year and continued tobacco use puts you at higher risk for that. We provide oral cancer screenings to detect its signs so we can take the appropriate steps and prevent further deterioration.

Whether you choose to quit or not, regularly visiting your dentist for professional treatment and advice on how to best take care of your teeth is vital to maintaining and improving your oral health.

Request an Appointment

Tobacco use can have a number of devastating effects on your oral and overall health. Visiting your dentist regularly can help your oral health. For more information on the effects of tobacco use, contact our Ann Arbor dentist or call us at 734.994.0909.

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This blog post has been updated.