There are plenty of reasons to quit smoking. Smoking can raise the risk of various autoimmune diseases like lupus or Graves disease. It has been linked to nearly 15 forms of cancer, and it can significantly increase your chances of lung disease, heart disease, and other smoking-related illnesses. In fact, many doctors consider quitting smoking as the one of the most positive changes you can make for your body, even ahead of a healthier diet and more exercise.
If you’re a smoker, you’ve probably heard all this before, but maybe there’s something you haven’t heard. Quitting smoking doesn’t just save your body, it also saves your mouth. As if you needed another reason to quit, here are three reasons to stub that cigarette, and pick up your toothbrush.
Your Smile Will Look Better
Although teeth naturally turn yellow with age depending on your diet and many other factors, smoking is maybe one of the worst smile stainers out there. The most common cause of tooth stains occurs when a substance containing staining agents enters into our mouth, and attaches to our teeth. Coffee, tea, and red wine are generally considered big ones, but cigarette smoke is even worse.
That’s because the nicotine and tar present in cigarettes are sticky in nature, and can seep into the enamel of our teeth, causing discoloration. Repeated exposure at the front of the mouth makes these stains very visible. Once this has happened, it becomes incredibly difficult to remove through brushing and flossing. In fact, one of the only viable options is professional teeth whitening, which use a chemical agent like peroxide to dissolve substances that have become trapped in our enamel.
Decrease Your Chance of Gum Disease
According to CDC, gum disease affects an estimated 47.2 percent of adult Americans. If a person is a smoker, this can increase. That’s because smoking can actually disrupt your body’s immune systems, almost doubling your chance of gum disease, and if you’ve been a smoker for a long time, these numbers only go up. For older patients, this can be concerning, as both gum disease and smoking can increase your chances of heart attack, stroke, and cancer. If you’re a big fan of your teeth, then that’s another reason to be concerned. Smokers are even more likely to experience serious consequence of gum disease, like tooth loss.
And don’t think that you can just get dental implants to replace lost teeth. Smoking increases the risk of dental implant failure by at least threefold!
When an injury occurs, our body’s natural response is to to close off an area of injury with inflammation. The problem is that this response actually makes it more difficult for your body to properly heal itself, blocking off stem cells and other mechanisms. Smoking does the much the same thing, as it can increase inflammation throughout the body, and in gum tissue. Which is why many dentists ask their patients to give up smoking for a period of time after a procedure.
If you’re a smoker, taking care of your teeth can be more difficult. To make sure your mouth is safe, it’s important to maintain your regularly scheduled check-ups. You may also consider cosmetic dental procedures like whitening.