Quitting Smoking Makes Your Dentist Smile

People try to quit smoking for many different reasons. Some want to avoid cancer or other health problems and some just want to insure they will live longer. According to BBC News, dentists across Europe have given the public one more reason to quit smoking.

Along with the obvious health risks with smoking such as lung cancer and heart disease, this new study shows an increase in oral cancers, diminished ability of taste buds and rejection of certain dental procedures. Smoking can also cause the gums to recede, leaving the roots of the tooth exposed.

People who are missing teeth or have lost a tooth due to an accident rely heavily on dental devices such as dentures and implants to improve their oral health. Implants are a new alternative to dentures of the past. Implants work similar to dentures, as they provide a false tooth to replace a missing one. They are used in people who have lost individual teeth, or to create a bridge and for better support to older dentures. Implants work by functioning as the “root” of the tooth because they are made from titanium and are implanted in the jaw. They are coated with a substance called hydroxyapatite which acts as the same chemical makeup of our own bones making the implants more effective than dentures.

It is important for the dentist to be sure the patient is right for implants before performing the procedure. The biggest problem with implant rejection is smoking and other diseases such as diabetes which both affect the amount of blood that reaches the implant. The BBC study reported that is a patient stopped smoking before and for eight weeks after receiving the implant, it would greatly increase the odds of it being effective.

Implant rejection may not effect all patients, but there are other procedures which are effected by smoking. Something as simple as a filling can be ineffective because of smoking, along with teeth removals, and gum disease. Antibiotics and topical treatments can also become useless because of smoking which can lead to more serious problems before, during and after dental procedures.

The most common dental problem facing tobacco users in the beginning are minor things such as bad breath and teeth discoloration. However these mild problems can turn into more serious problems quickly. According to a study done by the American Dental Association, 32% of smokers needed to have a filling replaced, 10.1% needed a tooth extraction and 22.5% needed a major dental cleaning because of periodontal disease (impaired blood flow). Smoking can also be a factor in the loss of jaw bone, gum disease leading to tooth loss, and increased plaque and tartar build up. According to WebMD, 90% of patients with oral cancer use tobacco products and of those 90%, 37% who keep using tobacco products after having one cancerous lesion removed will develop another compared to 6% of those who quit smoking.

Tobacco secession is the only way to combat not only dental problems but other health problems. Quitting is never easy and a challenge every smoker fears, however almost every smoker fears cancer too and quitting won’t kill, but cancer will.

There are many ways available to quit smoking and your dentist can help you on your path. There are prescription treatments such as Zyban or Wellbutrin which can help curb cravings. There are also over the counter treatments such as the nicotine patch, gum and lozenges. Other treatments include hypnosis, acupuncture and herbal remedies. Patients should talk with their dentists or healthcare providers to find out the best way to quit for them. Since each person is different, each persons plan will be different. Some people use a combination of treatments to quit. Quitting smoking can be a difficult road, however it will get easier. The health benefits far outweigh the challenge.

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