Most people know smoking can damage your health, but did you know that smoking can seriously damage your teeth and gums?
How Does Smoking Affect Your Mouth?
Smoking is known to be a strong risk factor in gum disease. You will know from our gum disease information how serious gum disease can be. Smoking is thought to change the normal ‘flora’ or bacteria in the mouth which may result in tipping the balance from oral health towards oral disease.
Bleeding, one of the first signs of gingivitis, is much reduced by nicotine so its recognition may bee delayed until it has advanced to periodontitis – which can result in tooth loss. Surveys show that age for age, smokers are more likely to have gum disease, to have lost bone support, and to have lost more teeth than non-smokers.
This is why dentists actively discourage smoking.
Smoking also affects your risk of developing cancer. You may think that not having heard much about oral cancer means that it is quite rare. In fact, there are 3,000 new cases or oral cancer diagnosed every year and about 1,500 of those cases result in death. That is almost as many deaths as from cervical or skin cancer. The incidence of oral cancer is also increasing.
How do I stop smoking?
There are 3 stages to stopping smoking:
- Deciding to stop.
- Staying stopped!
Nobody says it is easy to stop – but everybody says it is worth it.
If you’ve got to stage one then use the help available:
- Phone QUITLINE – 0800 00 22 00 (Freephone)
- Pick up a leaflet from our reception
- Contact your G.P. or practice nurse for their advice
- Ask your pharmacist about nicotine chewing gum, patches or nasal spray
- Ask your family and friends to help you