“Am I Smoking My Teeth Away?”

There is no way around it: smoking and drinking have a detrimental effect on your dental health, in addition to the rest of your body’s health. There could be arguments about the benefits of a glass of red wine or the medical use of marijuana, but as your health provider, my message is to encourage a clean , healthy drug-free way of living! When you smoke tobacco or drink alcohol, the harmful substances introduced to your body have adverse effects on your organs, and are both addictive and linked to cancers. As far as to your dental health, they can lead to tooth staining and discoloration, tooth decay, gum inflammation and disease, bone loss even tooth loss, as well as an increased risk of developing oral cancer.

Smoking and drinking directly passes foreign material through the oral cavity, generating adverse effects on your oral cavity. Alcohol is a desiccant (drying things up); heavy drinking dramatically decreases moisture needed to maintain a healthy oral cavity. A dry mouth increases one’s likelihood of developing tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, fungal infection, burning sensations or soreness of the mouth. Alcohol’s acidic nature can also erode the enamel coating on a drinker’s teeth, leading to an increased chance of sensitivity and decay. Long-term contact with alcohol in the oral cavity has also been found to be possibly carcinogenic. Frequent drinking will dramatically increase the ability of cancer-causing substances present in alcoholic beverages to penetrate the lining of your mouth, such as Acetaldehyde – which forms in a person’s mouth after using alcoholic mouthwash (suspected to be carcinogenic).

Smoking is equally detrimental to your oral health. Bad breath (halitosis), sinusitis and tooth discoloration will be the first signs of oral stress of a smoker, as nicotine and tar present in cigarette smoke stains the teeth. Smoking can also result in gum disease, leading to bone loss and tooth loss from decreases in blood flow and oxygen level, and increased plaque and tartar build-up. Smoking also raises the temperature of your mouth to 140-160º F, causing constant irritation and inflammation. An increased risk of developing oral cancer is also a consequence which should not to be over looked – there are 4000 different chemicals in tobacco smoke and 50 are known carcinogens. Nearly 90% of all oral cancer patients are smokers!

In all, smoking and drinking equally wreak havoc on your teeth, gums and oral environment. Avoid smoking and drinking at all costs, and keep your oral hygiene in tip-top condition by brushing, flossing, fluoridation, proper nutrition, and increasing the intake of supplements of vitamin Bs and C. Antioxidants are essential as well.

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