If you’re a smoker and are worried about the impact it may have on your dental health, you are in the right place. Did you know that tobacco use in any form raises your risk for gum disease? Yes, that’s right. It doesn’t matter if you smoke cigarettes or use a pipe. Or take it smokeless (spit tobacco) instead, you are still at risk.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the gums. Warning signs and symptoms of gum disease include but are not limited to: red or swollen gums, loose and sensitive teeth, tender or bleeding gums as well as pain when chewing food. This may not sound like a huge deal but in reality gum disease can impact the very bone structure that support your teeth, so it’s important not to ignore the warning signs.
How is smoking related to gum disease?
Smoking weakens the immune system, which is essentially your body’s infection fighters. In turn, this makes it harder for your body to fight off gum disease and gum infections. Studies have found that those who smoke have twice the risk for gum disease in comparison with those that don’t. The more cigarettes a smoker intakes, the greater their risk for gum disease also.
Is there anything else I should be aware of?
Yes! The longer you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease. Furthermore, if you’re a smoker who already has some gum damage, smoking can make it harder for your gums to heal. It has also been suggested that treatments for gum disease may not work as well for people who regularly smoke too.
Is there any way to prevent gum disease?
Fortunately, there are a lot of things that can be done to avoid gum disease and that are good dental habits. In addition to the obvious bruising your teeth twice a day, you should floss often to remove plaque. This is a build up on germs that stay on your teeth too long and lead to harden layers that dentists need to remove. Always see a dentist on a regular basis for checkups and professional cleanings. If you smoke, consider quitting. And if you don’t smoke, don’t start now!