Cigarette smoking is still the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for nearly 480,000 deaths annually. In 2005, nearly 21% of adults were smokers. More than a decade later, in 2018, new reports show smoking in America is at an all-time low, with 17.1% of American adult smokers. And that’s the goal. Because of the oral and overall health risks it’s an ongoing battle to lower smoking rates until they’re nonexistent.
*The Center of Disease Control defines a smoker as a person who has smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their life and continue to “smoke everyday or some days.” Smokers are more likely to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. The impact on your health from smoking is shocking, especially when we consider the risk of oral cancer. Get familiar with the facts today.
1. Oral Health Risks of Smoking Include: Teeth Stains & Bad Breath
Your teeth have enamel, which has pores, just like a sponge. These pores make it easier for substances to penetrate the enamel if you don’t take care of your smile. Cigarettes contain tar and nicotine and can stain your teeth in a short amount of time.
The chemicals in cigarettes can also cause bad breath. Instead of spending extra money on mints, gum, and harsh mouthwashes that temporarily disguise the smell, consider giving up smoking for good. Many resources are available to help you leave smoking behind such as Project Filter(projectfilter.org).
2. Distortion ofTaste
Smoking cigarettes can change how foods taste. One study fromBioMed Central found chronic exposure to cigarette smoke significantly affects taste buds. Their research showed the higher the nicotine dependence, the lower the individual’s sensitivity to taste. However, patients monitored in the study showed an increase in taste sensitivity in as little as two weeks following smoking cessation. Researchers concluded that quitting smoking can lead to a rapid recovery of taste.
3. Gum Disease
Periodontal disease, commonly known as, gum disease is when the gums supporting your teeth become infected from plaque build-up. Smoking cigarettes weakens your body’s immune system, making it harder to fight infection in the gums. In fact, people who smoke are twice as likely to get gum disease.
4. Oral & Oropharyngeal Cancer
Cancer develops when cells in the body mutate and begin to grow out of control. Smoking irritates the cells of the mouth and throat, encouraging cell dysfunction. Oral cancer is divided into two categories. The first is cancer of the oral cavity and can affect:
- inside of lips
- front of the tongue
- floor and roof of the mouth
- middle of the throat
- base of the tongue
Due to the carcinogens in tobacco and the dehydration effects of alcohol, smokers and excessive drinkers have the highest risk for developing oral cancers. Make sure your dentist checks your mouth for oral cancer symptoms. Regular dental visits will help you catch any signs early on.
Ready to Quit Smoking?
An estimated 53,000 people will get oral cancer in 2019, and nearly 11,000 will die from it.If you’re ready to quit, you don’t have to start the journey alone. There are local resources to help you. Take the first step to take back your oral and overall health today.