Tobacco is linked to a number of health complications, including those inside your mouth. To raise awareness of these conditions and encourage people to stop using tobacco (in all of its forms), the World Health Organization (WHO) holds World No Tobacco Day every year on May 31. Here are five oral health complications linked to tobacco that should be top of your mind:
- Gum Disease
Gum disease is a bacterial infection that makes your gums red, swollen and eventually destroys the soft tissues and bones which hold your teeth in place. Smokers are much more likely than nonsmokers to have gum disease.
- Oral Cancer
Tobacco use is a major cause of oral cancer. This is because tobacco contains carcinogenic chemicals, which, when smoked or chewed, exposes your oral tissues to them. Genetic changes may then occur in the cells of your oral tissues, resulting in oral cancer. Keep in mind the disease may present as a simply mouth sore or swelling that doesn’t heal.
- Delayed Healing
Smoking impairs the healing process inside your mouth. This is because the chemicals in tobacco decrease the blood flow to your oral tissues. Blood flow is important because blood brings oxygen to your tissues, and oxygen plays a key role in the healing process.
- Stained Teeth
The nicotine and tar in cigarettes can stain your fingers or even the walls of your house, so it’s no surprise that they do the same thing to your teeth. Over time, the outer layer of your teeth become discoloured, and may take on a yellow or even brown tint. Dental restorations like veneers or crowns can also become stained due to tobacco.
- Bad Breath
Bad breath is caused by bacterial build-up inside your mouth or just the lingering smell of the tobacco itself. Although bad breath remedies such as brushing and flossing regularly or freshening your breath with mouthwash can help keep the odour under control, they aren’t permanent solutions for smoker’s breath. To get rid of the odour for good, you need to stop using tobacco, and May 31 may be the perfect time to do so.
World No Tobacco Day seeks to raise awareness of these health complications. Quitting tobacco is challenging due to its addictive properties, but with your dentist’s help, you can take back control of your oral health.