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John P. Goodman DDS

Tooth Loss and Smoking: Considering the Connection

By Dr. John Goodman on June 24, 2016

The dangers of smoking cigarettesWhen it comes to improving overall health and wellness, there are plenty of options out there. Sometimes what a patient needs is advanced restorative dentistry treatments, which can address tooth decay, gum disease, and other problems. Other times prevention is key. When it comes to the health issues caused by smoking, a bit of both is warranted.

With this in mind, we want to look at the dental health problems linked to smoking. We already know that cigarettes can lead to cancer, lung disease, and heart disease, but it can also do major damage to your smile and overall dental wellness.

Smoking Causes Many Different Health Problems

Yes, smoking can lead to stained teeth and bad breath, and both of these can be serious issues. Yet smoking also increases the risk of gum disease, which in turn can lead to the loss of a tooth. In addition to gum disease, oral cancer risks increase significantly for people who smoke or use smokeless tobacco.

Increased Risk of Gum Disease

Gum disease refers to the inflammation of the gum tissue caused by oral bacteria, the same bacteria that naturally occurs in the mouth and causes tooth decay and bad breath. Since smokers are at greater risk of infection, the likelihood of developing gum disease is higher.

There are three stages of gum disease:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Advanced periodontitis

In more advanced stages of gum disease, teeth can become loose, shift out of place, and eventually fall out. There's also a greater likelihood of root canal infections, which can lead to pain and require tooth extraction to prevent more serious dental health problems.

Greater Likelihood of Gum Recession

In addition to gum disease, smoking contributes to gum recession. This refers to the loss of gum tissue and exposure of more of a tooth's root. This means less stability for the tooth in place, greater likelihood of tooth decay below the gumline, and root canal infections.

Smoking and Tooth Loss Are Linked

According to studies by The Academy of General Dentistry, smoking can significantly increase your chances of tooth loss. Research has found that men who smoke heavily for 10 years are likely to be missing 2 to 3 teeth, and women who smoke heavily for 10 years are likely to be missing 1 to 2 teeth. This is why it's important to avoid tobacco products if you want to have the healthiest smile possible.

Treatments for Tooth Loss

If you do suffer from tooth loss, there are many different options to consider. Dental bridges and dentures are an old standby, and advances in dental techniques and technology also mean the use of dental implants, which are artificial tooth roots surgically placed into the jawbone and gum tissue. The best option for your needs can be discussed in the consultation process.

Get Help Quitting for Good

Ultimately it's best for patients to quit smoking. While easier said that done, there are countless resources out there that can make this a reality. We'd be more than happy to point out what these resources are so you can smile with confidence again.

Learn More About Restorative Dental Care

For more information about smoking, tooth loss, and how to improve your overall health and wellness, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. Our entire team is here to help you smile with renewed confidence.

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