There are several factors that can determine whether we maintain good dental health. These include ensuring you practice a solid dental hygiene regime, maintain a healthy diet and do not participate in lifestyle choices such as taking drugs, drinks or smoking.
How Does Smoking Affect Your Dental Health?
Smoking affects your dental health in many ways and can lead to serious future oral problems, as well as many unattractive ones. To address this, however, we need to understand why people smoke in the first place. The number one reason why people smoke is to decrease stress!
Smoking habits, stress, and dental health
Many people use cigarettes as a way to lower their stress levels, and the more stressed they get, the more they smoke! Situations such as job changes, family pressures, holidays and financial difficulties are all triggers for increased smoking.
Since nicotine is a drug that alters your mood and makes you believe you are calmer for its intake, it is easy to see why people think that smoking helps with stress. Research disagrees, however, and states that smoking increases stress on your body. It does this by raising your blood pressure and heart rate, tensing your muscles, constricting blood vessels and decreasing oxygen to your brain and body. This stress, in turn, affects your body’s ability to expedite health coping skills including orally.
Common oral problems caused by smoking
Seventy-five percent of all oral cancer patients are smokers who are three times more likely to die of this disease than non-smokers. Treatment for oral cancer includes tooth extraction, surgery, and radiotherapy.
Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease is caused by bacteria or food debris building up on the teeth. This disease, in turn, destroys the bone surrounding and supporting the teeth causing them to loosen or fall out. Many smokers due to poor blood supply are unaware they are suffering from this disease as they do not have the bleeding gums associated with it.
Smokers also frequently suffer from complications and poor healing after tooth extraction or other mouth and gum surgeries. Dry socket is very common in these cases and extremely painful.
More minor oral problems include smoker’s keratosis, stained teeth, and bad breath.
How to quit smoking
Quitting smoking is not easy, but there are many things you can do and many aids out there to help.
- Be prepared – Set a date and decide how you will stop smoking, be it cold turkey or using nicotine replacement therapy.
- Nicotine replacement therapy – Examples of these are skin patches, nasal sprays, inhalers, lozenges and chewing gum.
- Non-nicotine medications – FDA approved drugs such as Bupropion and Varenicline can help with quitting smoking. It needs to be taken into account, however, that these drugs can have side effects.
- Alternative therapies – E-cigarettes, hypnosis, acupuncture, and yoga have all been reported to be useful in quitting smoking.
- Get support – This can be in the form of family and friends, written information, therapy groups or even one on one counselling.
Tips to care for your teeth and gums
There are several ways you can ensure great dental hygiene, and these include:
- Quitting smoking.
- Cleaning your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Using dental floss or interdental cleaners daily.
- Ensuring you make regular dentist visits.
- Avoiding dry mouth by keeping your mouth well salivated.
- Limiting your alcohol intake.
How can we minimise stress and its effects on our oral health?
Minimising stress is essential in maintaining good oral health, and for the smoker, you can start to do this by quitting. Other ways to lower stress are exercising which helps you to lose stressful thoughts and maintaining a healthy diet. Teamed with keeping hydrated and following a great oral regimen stress induced dental problems should become a thing of the past.
What are the most common dental treatments for Smokers?
Due to the smoking, the most common dental problems arises are Stained Teeth, Keratosis, Bad Breath, Oral cancer and Loose teeth. The health consultants will mostly suggest showing it to Dental Hygienist, Teeth Whitening Specialists and opting for an Oral Cancer Screening by a highly experienced dentist. Dentists will often examine you and look for pre-conditions of your mouth and cure it earlier when there is a greater chance.
Oxford House Dental Practice, a pioneer in quality dentistry since its establishment in 1954. With its large, private car park, familiar exterior, friendly attitude of surgeons and the full range of dental treatments, it is a well-known dentist in Milton Keynes.
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