If you smoke, you likely know how bad it is for you. You don’t need a dentist to tell you that. But do you know how good quitting smoking can be for your teeth and overall dental health?
As dentists, we’ve seen benefits of quitting smoking first hand — years of tooth decay and gum disease slowly but steadily reverse themselves just because a patient gives up the ashtray.
It’s not too late — in fact, now is the best time to quit smoking!
What Smoking Means to Dental Care
Smokers don’t just face a higher risk for oral cancer — they also face higher rates of gum disease and tooth decay. They may experience decay at the roots of the teeth. They are also more likely to face complications after tooth removal and gum and oral surgery. This is because smoking constricts the blood vessels — making it harder for your mouth to heal. Your mouth will have a harder time accepting dental implants. It can be more difficult to have wisdom teeth removed.
Take it from your dentist. Smoking wears down the enamel on your teeth, which leads to tooth decay. Unprocessed tobacco leaves from cigars and chewing tobacco contain tiny particles that can be highly abrasive to teeth as they mix with your saliva.
Smoking also causes bad breath — and it’s not just because of the smell of the smoke. Cigarette smoke dries out your palate and decreases saliva production, creating the perfect environment for odor causing bacteria to flourish.
Why Quitting Smoking is Great for Teeth — It’s Never Too Late!
The good news is the damage done by smoking is completely reversible if you quit. Your mouth is able to heal — even after you’ve smoked for a long time. In fact, 10 years after stopping, people who quit have a comparable risk of gum disease as those who’ve never smoked.
In one study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, participants who quit smoking experienced significant improvement in gum health and a decrease in gum disease just one year after quitting smoking,
Cosmetic dentistry options like teeth whitening can return your smile to its perfect white. At our dentist office in Middleburg Heights, we offer professional teeth whitening. The treatment’s pointless, however, if you don’t quit. The stains on your teeth will only return.
How to Quit Smoking: Talk to Your Dentist
We get it — quitting is never easy. But there’s never been a better time to quit smoking than right now. As your dentist, we’re here to help. Your dentist can talk to you about quitting and provide resources to help make it easier.
Quitting cold turkey isn’t always the best approach. Many people do better with a customized plan to help guide their journey for quitting tobacco. You need to consider how to quit not just in the short term but how to avoid the long term challenges of relapse.
Find your reason for quitting — better dental health, protecting your family from second hand smoke, and living longer for your grandchildren. Whatever your inspiration, write it down on a card and carry it with you.
Tell family, friends and co-workers you’re quitting and ask for their support. You might team up with a quitting buddy who’s also giving up the habit. You can support each other through the tough times.
You need to consider when you tend to smoke. If it’s at meals, supplement it with a healthier alternative like refreshing gum or a cool, non-alcoholic beverage. Find other ways to relax — listening to music, practicing mindful meditation, taking relaxing walks. You might treat yourself to a massage or take up a new hobby.
By all means, ask for help. Nicotine patches, nicotine gums, and other prescriptions can cut cravings and make the process easier.
Your dentist is here for you. You’ve got this. Quit smoking today for a more beautiful smile tomorrow.