You already know that smoking is incredibly harmful to your overall health. The number of diseases and unpleasant side effects which are directly related to the unfortunate habit is staggering. Beyond the bad breath, yellowing teeth, and oral cancer risk, you can add tooth loss to the list. West Des Moines dentist, Dr. Jessica Johnson, notes a research study which shows the devastating link between oral health issues and tobacco use.
A 30-Year Study
Tufts University was the site of a study which tracked the oral health of approximately 500 men for 30 years. The male participants were initially divided into two groups: smokers and non-smokers. As some of the male smokers quit the habit, they formed a third group. On average, the consistent smokers lost almost three teeth every ten years. The non-smokers lost slightly more than one tooth over the same period of time. The group of smokers who quit lost an average of 2.5 teeth while smoking. However, the rate of tooth loss declined dramatically after they quit. Tufts conducted a similar study among roughly the same amount of women. The researchers found that smoking women were two times as likely to lose teeth as non-smoking females.
Smoking and Gum Disease
Smoking does not necessarily cause periodontal (gum) disease, but can make periodontal infection significantly worse. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. You need oxygen to keep gum tissues healthy. Smoking also interferes with certain cells with the primary purpose of repairing damage. In addition, the habit masks some of the symptoms of gum disease, so smokers may not realize they even have a problem until their dental health issues have already become advanced. Periodontitis (advanced gum disease) can lead directly to tooth loss.
What Smokers Can Do
If you want to keep your teeth and maintain good overall health, the best advice is to quit or avoid smoking. Many of the serious effects of tobacco use (including the effects on gingival tissues) are lessened, or even reversed once the smoking habit is kicked. Smokers must make sure that oral hygiene is a top priority. If you use tobacco, make sure you floss daily and brush at least twice a day. Also, make sure to see Dr. Johnson every six months for regular checkups. She can spot any problems in the gums and help you to take steps to prevent advanced gum disease and tooth loss.
Your West Des Moines Dentist Wants You to Have a Healthy Smile
If you want to make sure your oral health is as good as it can be, schedule a checkup at Valley Ridge Family Dental by calling (515) 223-9764 today. We welcome patients from West Des Moines, Waukee, Clive, Urbandale, and the surrounding Des Moines metro communities.