The Great American Smokeout and Oral Health

November marks the American Cancer Society’s annual Great American Smokeout event. Each year, the third Thursday of November is designated as the challenge day for smokers to try to quit smoking and using tobacco for good. In support of this nationwide campaign, many establishments around the country, such as medical professionals and dental offices, will host free and public events to hand out educational materials, offer counseling, share encouragement, and distribute guidebooks in an effort to spread awareness. The Great American Smokeout is an encouraging social event that reminds everyone–smokers and nonsmokers–of how detrimental tobacco use is to oral and overall health.


With this annual event coming right up on November 19, 2016, The American Dental Association and dentists nationwide are taking part by spreading awareness to patients and communities all around. These public services and announcements educate us about how smoking can impact dental health. To continue sharing this chain of information, here are five ways habitual tobacco use may affect your oral health:


  1. Regular tobacco use is linked to oral cancer. An estimated 90% of patients diagnosed with oral cancer have evidence of tobacco use in their medical history. Oral cancers range from cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, gums, cheeks, and inner surface of the lips. People who smoke on a regular basis actually increase the risk of developing mouth and throat cancers overtime through long exposure. Quitting smoking and chewing tobacco can play a significant role in lowering your risk of developing oral cancers later in life.


  1. Smoking can lead to periodontal issues. Gums must be kept in good health to properly anchor teeth. When exposed to smoke, however, gums may become recessed. This can lead to tooth loss. Additionally, smoking limits the growth of healthy blood vessels, which slows down the healing process of gum tissue. This is a periodontal concern, for without healthy gum tissue the implant to replace your lost tooth is less likely to be successful.


  1. Smoking inhibits implant success for patients. Dental implants are used to replace lost teeth. People who continue smoking with dental implants may experience implant failure. Dental implants are a good fit for patients with healthy gums, adequate bone to support the implant, and good health. People who smoke regularly may not have healthy gums, deeming the surgery a risk. According to a clinical study, 15.8% of patients who have a history of smoking experience failed implant surgery. If dental implants are part of your recommended treatment plan, it’s important to try to quit smoking before surgery for the highest success rate possible.


  1. Tobacco products harm teeth. The unprocessed leaves in tobacco contain small particles that can be abrasive to teeth. This abrasion may wear down teeth overtime. Similarly, long-term tobacco use has proven to stain teeth by turning them yellow, dull the sense of the tongue, and compromise the sense of smell. These reactions from long exposure of tobacco use impact oral health quite significantly and it’s difficult to reverse these symptoms back to the normal state.


  1. Smoking can cause cavities. Much like sugars and bacteria, tobacco use causes cavities. Smoking can also increase a person’s risk of mouth pain and make them twice as likely to need root canal treatment. Mouth pain and numerous cavities could be indicators of future tooth loss. Quitting tobacco use and smoking altogether can prevent the formation of cavities and mouth pain.


In short, smoking and using other tobacco products play a huge role in impacting oral health. While not all smokers experience these symptoms, the risk of having them someday is significantly higher. In honor of the Great American Smokeout and oral health awareness, share this information with your friends and family. If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to call us to schedule a check up as soon as possible at (207) 781-5900. We are here to serve!