Tobacco And Oral Health
By Ankit Agarwal
Tobacco use significantly affects the health of your gums, making them prone to disease. The chemicals in tobacco reduce blood flow, impairing the normal function of gum tissue cells. This makes it harder for your gums to heal, leading to severe periodontal (gum) diseases which can cause your teeth to loosen or fall out.
Tobacco users should consider using toxin-free toothpastes as the mass-produced ones contain sulfates and parabens which can aggravate already inflamed gums. Brushes with soft bristles that do not keep chafing already irritated gums are also highly recommended.
Tobacco is notorious for staining teeth. The tar and nicotine in tobacco can change the color of your teeth to a yellow or even brown color over time. Chewing tobacco is even worse. This is not just a cosmetic concern. The same substances that cause staining also eat away at your teeth, causing cavities and erosion. Smokers and tobacco/pan masala chewers should get their teeth cleaned once every 6 months. Teeth whitening treatment can also be considered as frequent clean-ups just for cosmetic reasons can erode enamel and do more harm than good.
Tobacco users are more likely to develop a variety of ailments and oral infections in the long run. The chemicals in tobacco can impair your mouth’s ability to fight off bacteria, making users more prone to infections. This includes periodontal infections, which can lead to tooth loss and bone damage, and thrush, a yeast infection causing painful white patches in the mouth. “Tobacco use is linked to a myriad of oral diseases. Apart from gum disease and cavities, it significantly increases your risk of oral cancer, which can be life-threatening. Other conditions include leukoplakia (white patches in the mouth), candidiasis, and stomatitis (inflammation and sores inside the mouth). Moreover, smoking can delay healing after oral surgeries, making treatments less effective.
Doing Away with Tobacco Addiction
Overcoming tobacco addiction is a challenging but achievable goal. For quitting tobacco, building a strong motivation and a support system is crucial. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help identify triggers and manage cravings. Nicotine replacement therapies, like patches, gum, or lozenges, can ease withdrawal symptoms. Prescription medications, like Bupropion or Varenicline, can also be considered. Remember, it’s not about going cold turkey overnight – it’s about sustained effort and progress.
Needless to say, the most effective way to prevent tobacco from interfering with oral health is to quit smoking, pan masala, and sheesha but the choice to quit tobacco use is a personal one and can be more challenging than one might expect. Regular dental checkups, proper brushing, and flossing are necessary for those that cannot find the motivation to quit.