You may have seen a commercial recently from anti-smoking group that talks about the “true cost of smoking.” If you haven’t, here’s a quick synopsis: A young teen asks the clerk at a convenience store for a pack of cigarettes.

He lays down a few dollars and the clerk looks at him suspiciously and remarks something like, “You’re going to need more that.” Suddenly, the teen removes a pair of pliers and pulls out a tooth and lays it on the counter. It’s a graphic and shocking commercial, which is typical of anti-smoking advertisements. That commercial got me thinking. While smokers are commonly warned about lung cancer and other respiratory issues, oral health issues are rarely mentioned in these anti-smoking ads.

I’m happy that starting to change. So, Today I want to share with you some of the ways smoking can damage your teeth and oral health.

What Smoking/Tobacco Does to Your Gums

We dentists aren’t here just to clean and assess your teeth, we also monitor the health of your gums. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, occurs when there is an infection in the gums. Common signs of gum disease include bleeding gums, swollen gums, or tenderness of the gums. Gum disease is a problem that has been linked to life-threatening problems like heart disease and diabetes. It’s also the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. About 75 percent of Americans will suffer from gum disease, and smokers and tobacco users are twice as likely to get gum disease.

What’s even worse news for smokers: restorative dental treatments and restorative gum treatments may not work as well. The goal to restoring your mouth is to return it back to a healthy state. That’s difficult to do if you’re a tobacco user because tobacco is terrible for your oral health. Take dental implants. Dental implants are easily one of the best options for replacing missing teeth, but dental implants also can fail. Smoking or using tobacco damages the soft and hard tissue in your mouth — your gums and bone. Dental implants are made from titanium and work by fusing to the jawbone. When the jawbone is damaged by smoking or using tobacco, it’s more difficult for the implant to merge with the jawbone. You’ll also have an increased recovery time after surgery.

Your Risk of Oral Cancer

It’s not just lung cancer smokers and tobacco users need to worry about; you’re at a higher risk of oral cancer, too. While doctors do not know the origin of every case of oral cancer, it can largely be avoided. We’ve found that a majority of oral cancer cases occur in people who use tobacco or drink alcohol in excess. That’s not to say that your risk of getting oral cancer is zero if you do not smoke or drink in excess.

During your visits, we complete a short examination of your gums, cheek, and tongue for any abnormalities in the mouth. You can trust our office to handle every facet of your dental care. Call our office today at 248-972-8720.