INTRODUCTION: (Impact Of Smoking On Oral Health)
Tobacco smoking is considered the leading cause of death in the world. Oral Health: Smoking can lead to many different health issues and diseases, such as bad breath, discoloration of tooth, inflammation of salivary gland openings, increased bone loss, increased risk of leukoplakia, increased risk of developing gum diseases, delayed healing after tooth extraction, and increased risk of infection.
WHAT IS ORAL HEALTH/HYGIENE:
Oral health means much more than healthy teeth. Oral hygiene is keeping mouth clean and free of disease. Mouth is the entry point to digestive and respiratory tracts, and mouth teems with bacteria some of which can cause disease.
With oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, keep bacteria under control. Without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections.
IMPORTANCE OF ORAL HEALTH:
Mouth is the gateway to your overall health. Properly taking care of mouth is very important otherwise it can lead to health problems.
The best way to prevent these problems would be to brush regularly, floss your teeth, avoid smoking and visit your dentist on regular basis.
WHAT TO DO FOR GOOD ORAL HYGIENE:
- Brushing regularly twice a day with a soft-bristled brush.
- Use fluoride containing toothpaste and mouthwash to remove food particles.
- Floss teeth once a day
- Visit your dentist on regular basis.
- Avoid smoking.
- Replace your brush every three months
- Eat a healthy diet and limit sugar and starch intake.
- Drink loads of water.
- Wipe a baby’s gums with warm, wet cloth every day.
- Babies should not go to bed with bottles in mouth.
WHAT CONDITIONS CAN BE LINKED TO ORAL HEALTH:
Bad oral hygiene can contribute to various diseases, including:
- ENDOCARDITIS: it is the infection of inner lining of heart valves. It occurs when bacteria from mouth, spread through bloodstream and attach to certain areas in heart.
- DIABETES: Gum disease is more severe and frequent among people who have diabetes. It is very important to control blood glucose level to prevent gum disease.
It is important to pay particular attention to oral health if you are living with diabetes.
- BLOOD PRESSURE: Poor oral hygiene appears to worsen blood pressure and interferes with hypertension treatment. Gum disease can lead to increased blood pressure.
HOW WILL SMOKING AFFECT GUMS AND TEETH?
Smoking is the major cause of gum disease and tooth loss. Tobacco smoking causes lack of oxygen in bloodstream, leading to gum infection. Smoking affect the attachment of bone and soft tissues to teeth.
It interferes with the normal functioning of gum tissue cells due to which smokers are at greater risk of developing gum infection which may also affect wound healing.
SYMPTOMS OF GUM DISEASE:
- Bright red, swollen gums
- Gums feel tender to touch
- Bleeding gums.
- Bad breath.
- Pus discharge.
- Loose and sensitive teeth.
- Gum recession
- Pain while chewing
HOW DOES SMOKING TOBACCO STAIN TEETH?
One of the effects of smoking is staining of teeth. This is caused by nicotine in the cigarettes. Teeth have pores. Nicotine in tobacco absorbs in these pores causing yellow discoloration.
Bad breath is also a major complication of smoking. This is caused by dry mouth which is due to decreased production of saliva.
WHAT IS THE RISK OF DEVELOPING ORAL CANCER IN SMOKERS?
Approximately 90% of people with oral cancer have used tobacco. The risk of developing oral cancer increase with the amount of tobacco smoked.
Some of the chemicals present in the tobacco smoke cause genetic changes in the cell of oral cavity which can lead to development of oral cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of oral cancer, accounting for over 90% of oral cancers.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ORAL CANCER:
- Mouth sore or ulcer that does not heal
- White or reddish patch
- A lump inside mouth
- Difficult swallowing.
- Difficulty in opening of mouth.
- Severe pain
- Bleeding gums.
HOW IS GUM DISEASE TREATED?
The first line of treatment for gum disease is scaling and root planning. In scaling dentist do in-depth cleaning of teeth and gums. In root planning rough surfaces of the roots of teeth are smoothed out.
Medications to treat gum disease include:
- Antibiotic gel or oral antibiotics.
- Enzyme suppressant to block certain enzymes in mouth.
- Antimicrobial mouthwashes.
HOW ORAL CANCER IS TREATED?
Treatment of oral cancer depends on location and stage of cancer. Treatment options include:
- Surgery to remove the tumor and margin of healthy tissue that surrounds it. If cancer cells have spread to lymph nodes in neck than neck dissection is recommended. After removal of cancerous cells, a reconstructive surgery is recommended to rebuild mouth to help regain the ability to talk and eat.
- Radiation therapy to kill cancer cells by using radiations. It is done after surgery. If patient has an early stage cancer, it might be used alone.
- Chemotherapy to kill cancer cells by using chemicals.
Oral cancers are linked to tobacco smoking. Tobacco smoking makes treatment less effective, makes it harder for body to heal, and increases risk of a cancer recurrence.
DENTAL HYGIENE TIPS FOR SMOKERS:
Smokers should visit their dentists twice a year. They should be brushing and flossing at least twice daily.
They should be using a tongue cleaner and mouthwash on a regular basis.
Smokers should also check for recurrent bleeding, lesions, swellings, and lumps in mouth.
ARE SMOKELESS TOBACCO PRODUCTS SAFER?
Smokeless tobacco such as chewing or spit tobacco, snuff tobacco, snus, and dissolvable tobacco might expose people to lower levels of harmful chemicals than tobacco smoke, but that doesn’t mean these products are safe.
These products contain chemicals, as well as addictive nicotine.
Health risks of smokeless tobacco:
- Oral cancer
- Pancreatic and esophagus cancer
- Increases risk of heart disease and stroke
- Increased risk of premature delivery
- Faster Aging
HOW CAN I QUIT SMOKING?
Nicotine is an extremely addictive substance and, because of this, breaking a smoking habit isn’t easy. There are many nicotine replacement therapy products (NRT) to help quit smoking.
- Nicotine chewing gum
- Nasal sprays
Manage tobacco cravings by distracting yourself, by reminding yourself why you quit, and by rewarding yourself.
Cope with your tobacco craving by finding an oral substitute such as suck on a drinking straw
Alternative therapies such as hypnosis, acupuncture, behavioral therapy, and motivational therapies.
Dr. Emaan Fatima
Dr. Emaan Fatima is a Dental Doctor/Surgeon, Graduated From Sharif Dental & Medical College, Lahore.
Also a contributor of dental/oral health blogs at different websites.