It’s Affecting You More Than You Know
When you hear about smoking or using other tobacco products, it’s likely the first thing you think about is lung cancer. The truth is, using tobacco can cause a number of other health problems — many of which can affect your smile. If you are a smoker, you don’t need me to make you feel bad about it, but I do want to make sure you’re well-informed about the other ways tobacco can affect you. What are they and what can you do to prevent further damage?
Just the Facts
On the side of every cigarette pack is a warning from the surgeon general about smoking, reminding users that they are at an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and complications during pregnancy. What the warning does not mention is the ways that smoking affects you every day.
- Smoking leaves you with a decreased sense of smell and taste; if you’ve ever been told that you over-season food, it could be a direct result of using tobacco products
- You can brush, chew gum, and crunch on mints all you want, but smoking causes persistent bad breath
- Not only does smoking stain your teeth, it stains your tongue as well
- Those who smoke generally take longer to heal from illnesses and medical procedures
- Smokers are also more likely to experience gum disease, which is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults
The same goes for cigars and smokeless tobacco. In fact, sugars are sometimes added to smokeless tobacco to enhance the flavor, further increasing the likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease. With or without inhalation, your oral tissues are exposed to toxins that have been linked to cancer; when you inhale or swallow these toxins, the rest of your body is affected.
And Then There’s Cancer
All tobacco products can cause cancer, and while lung cancer is the most frequently discussed form, there are others that few people think about. These include esophageal, laryngeal, mouth, lip, and tongue cancers — all of which can result in death. What’s more, depending on the location and severity of the cancer, the treatments themselves can be painful and sometimes disfiguring.
If you smoke, it’s more important than ever that you come in for regular visits. The cleanings will help save your teeth and gums, and the examination could potentially save your life, as I screen for oral cancers. I promise — no lectures, no judgment; you keep your appointments and I’ll help keep you healthy.