Ground Pig Day. Black Friday. COLUMBUS day. No, they are not all nostalgic 90s movies. They are technically holidays. Whether they’re worth celebrating – that’s debatable. One cause we can leave behind, however, is World No Tobacco Day. It was created by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is celebrated every year on the 31st day of May. Its mission is to raise awareness about the health complication caused by tobacco and to encourage all types of tobacco users to quit once and for all. The American Dental Association mention many oral health impacts of tobacco products. The 5 highlighted below are widespread and affect not only your oral health but also your own vitality.

1) Gum disease

It’s not an obsession with chewing gum. Gum disease is when your gums become inflamed, infected and may bleed when you brush. Without proper treatment, your gums and tissues around your teeth can become irritated and pull away from the teeth. The bacteria found in plaque are mostly the culprit for the infection. But you need to know:

  • Tobacco is also a guilty party as smokers who smoke 1.5 packs a day are 6 times more likely than non-smokers to have periodontal disease, according to Delta Dental
  • Smoking can restrict blood vessel growth, which slows down the healing process of damaged gums
  • Fortunately, smokers who quit can reduce their risk of gum disease to that of a non-smoker in about 11 years.

2) Oral cancer

We are all aware of how lung cancer afflicts smokers. But oral cancer is also found in both smokers and those who chew tobacco. According to Health Canada:

  • The chemicals found in tobacco are carcinogenic as your oral tissue is exposed to these chemicals when smoked or chewed, and then the cells in your oral tissue mutate, which can lead to tumors.
  • It usually develops on the tongue, lower lip and floor of your mouth and often looks like your usual mouth sore that never heals
  • The treatment needed for oral cancer may require radiation, surgery, or if widespread, removal of part of your jaw
  • After 10 to 20 years of quitting, the risk decreases to almost that of someone who has never smoked

3) Delayed Healing

Your body’s ability to heal itself with its immune system is essential. To heal properly, blood and oxygen flow are needed. Smoke your blood flow slows down through your oral cavity and thus slows down the healing process. As a result, simple dental procedures will become more complicated:

  • Your implant will have a better chance of failing
  • Your tooth extraction site will be prone to infection
  • Your gum disease treatment will be less effective

4) Spotted teeth

The largest sources of spotted teeth are food (coffee, red wine, etc.) and tobacco. The first is good in moderation. Tobacco, however, is not. It is the nicotine and tar found in cigarettes that do the coloring – from your hands and walls in your home to your pearl whites. You need to know:

  • The outer layer of your teeth can turn a yellow or even a shade of brown
  • Veneers and crowns are also prone to tobacco stains
  • A dentist’s recommendation bleaching treatment can significantly help
  • But the bleaching treatment will only be effective if the tobacco use stops

5) Bad breath

While you may be thinking bad breath does not affect your oral health, only your social life, you will be wrong. Ordinary smoking can leave a residual tobacco odor, but bacteria buildup can also cause bad breath or halitosis. It is an acidic combination that can lead to gum disease and requires:

  • Regular brushing and flossing
  • Regular rinse with mouthwash
  • Brush or use a tongue scraper to clean the tongue regularly
  • Quit tobacco use completely

These 3 oral health complications are just the tip of the iceberg. According to the WHO:

  • More than 8 million people die each year from tobacco use
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke causes 1.2 million deaths annually
  • 65,000 children die each year from second-hand smoke-related illnesses

It is much easier to preach it than to do it, but if you need help to stop smoke or chew, It’s never too late. Talk to your dentist to create a stop plan that is best for you and your oral health. Then you can celebrate World No Tobacco Day every day for the rest of your healthier life.

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This article is intended to promote understanding and knowledge of common oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or treatment.