When we hear about the health risk diseases of smoking, we normally think of lung cancer, but the damage from smoking isn’t limited to just the lungs. A good friend and Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga Pathologist Dr. Paul Kaplan describes smoking as a shotgun of bad health to the body. As opposed to the spitting tobacco habit being a rifle shot to the oral cavity. Smoking has a broad harmful effect on your entire body. Smoke is inhaled through the mouth, so there is little surprise it has a massive impact on the oral cavity. Not just staining of the teeth and bad breath, it causes oral cancer and many other problems. Let’s talk about some of the health effects from smoking and how to finally kick the habit with our Chattanooga dentist Dr. Mark McOmie.
The Facts About Smoking
Over 16 million Americans live with a disease caused by smoking which is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Of the nearly 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, 70 are known carcinogens. Causing harm to nearly every organ, smoking increases your risk of stroke, heart disease, and numerous cancers including oral cancer. Breathing secondhand cigarette smoke can lead to lifelong health problems and even death for millions of people. Most smokers die prematurely of a smoking-related illness.
Smoking Does Harm To The Gums
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, starts with inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, it can lead to widespread damage to the gums and supporting bone tissue resulting in tooth loss. Gum disease also enables bacteria to spread from the mouth throughout the bloodstream. Smoking introduces hundreds of toxins into the mouth, which not only doubles the risk of developing gum disease, it makes it much harder to treat.
Smoke is a vasoconstrictor. What does that mean? The blood flow is constricted to the oral cavity in the case of smokers. This leads to delayed healing of oral wounds and is one of the ways periodontal disease progresses so fast. Many dentists in Chattanooga won’t even place implants for patients that smoke. Here at McOmie Family Dentistry Dr. Ellen and Dr. Mark place implants on light smokers. We know it will take longer for the implant to integrate into the bone thus making a more extended time until we can restore the implant with a crown. It just takes longer on smokers.
Causes Whitening Of The Oral Mucosa
Stomatitis Nicotina, or smoker’s keratosis, is the inflammatory swelling of mucous glands in the mouth. This shows up as thick, white patches on the roof of the mouth. While it is usually not painful, smoker’s keratosis can be pre-cancerous. Smoker’s keratosis can also have a cobblestone appearance on the roof of the mouth. Often we see the cobblestone white patches with people who smoke pipes. The best thing to do for this condition is to stop smoking. In the real world that doesn’t always happen. When we see smoker’s keratosis, we monitor this situation very closely, using our Velscope oral cancer screening instrument at least every six months. Oral cancer is so deadly if it is caught late and we NEVER want one slipping by us. So we watch our patients mouths like a hawk.
Staining Of Teeth Is Increased
The staining of teeth is increased an incredible amount with smoking. On a person that smokes every little fissure, crack, and crevice is stained making these very visible. On a non-smoker, these aren’t stained and go without notice. Smoke has a yellow, brown color that stains the teeth. Smoke is also hot, so taking a hot colored smoke with tar in it and running it through the teeth as it’s drawn in and out is a perfect storm for cosmetically staining teeth.
Smoking Increases The Risk Of Oral Cancer
An unbelievable 80 percent of people diagnosed with oral cancer are smokers. 80%!! That is amazing!! Oral cancer affects the tongue, lips, throat, and cheeks. Early symptoms include pain or persistent mouth sores, strange white patches in the mouth, difficulty swallowing or chewing, swelling, numbness and a feeling of something stuck in the throat that just won’t go away.
Your dentist is the first line of defense against oral cancer because most of these symptoms can be detected early during a regular dental exam. Our Velscope exams are free to anyone! Even people who don’t come to McOmie Family Dentistry are welcome to stop in for a screening at no charge. WE ARE SERIOUS ABOUT NEVER LETTING AN ORAL CANCER SLIP BY US!
The Harm Isn’t Limited To The Smoker
Second-hand smoke is very harmful to those around the smoker. Second-hand smoke comes from both the lit cigarette, pipe, cigar and from the smoker exhaling the smoke. Smoking not only affects the oral health of the smoker, but it can also put the health of everyone around them at heightened risk too, in addition to many other adverse health effects. Babies and children are most likely to suffer from this smoke with asthma attacks, infections, and even SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). The effect of smoking on those around the smoke is substantial, and the harm is totally unnecessary. There is no reason anybody should ever have to be subjected to second-hand smoke it is preventable and totally avoidable. If you smoke, please don’t do it around others especially children. Go outside to do it and never do it in a car with children.
Breaking The Habit
Quitting smoking is not easy we understand this. We are here to help not judge people. Memorial Hospital Rees Skillern Cancer Institute offers a free eight-week program called Freedom From Smoking that helps participants learn how to beat tobacco addiction, lifestyle changes that make quitting easier, stress management, how to avoid weight gain and how to stay smoke-free for good. Freedom From Smoking is an American Lung Association program that has helped more than one million Americans overcome an addiction to nicotine during the past 30 years. Call (423) 495-7778 to register for an upcoming class.
This is a local Chattanooga program. It is run in conjunction with the Buz Standefer Lung center. Buz Standefer is Dr. Ellen’s father, and he passed away from lung cancer and the family felt strongly about helping others not only beat smoking-related illness but to prevent them as well. Not just our office but our family is committed to your health we put our money where our mouth is.
We will help with quitting or we will help manage the health of someone who does smoke. Coming to the dentist is an excellent way to catch a problem before it gets out of hand. We will help with any gum problems, precancerous lesions, or anything else we can help with.
The great news is that smoking is the most preventable cause of all of these dental health problems, because you can either quit smoking or just never start. Even someone with a long history of smoking can significantly reduce their risk of health complications by quitting, so don’t assume there’s nothing to be gained by kicking the habit.
Make The Best Choice For Your Oral Health
If you want help to quit smoking, there are resources all around you. Support from family, friends, and even counselors can be the best help in quitting. The phone number listed above to a free class to help to quit smoking is a great resource. You can also check out the CDC’s website for tips and information. As your dentist, Dr. Mark and Dr. Ellen McOmie and our entire team at McOmie Family Dentistry, we care very much about you and your health. We are here to help in any way we can. We encourage you to quit smoking. If you can’t or just are not in the mental spot to stop we will help you minimize the effects that it has on your mouth. Schedule a dental appointment and let us help you keep optimal oral health. We care about the overall health of all our patients!
Give us a call and schedule with our wonderful staff and amazing dentists! McOmie Family Dentistry 423-899-1112!