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Smokers Face Hidden Dental Risks

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smokers dental risks dentist harrisonburgSmoking is often blamed for common dental problems like stained teeth and bad breath. While the risk for these problems is certainly an increased concern for smokers, there are other, more serious issues to watch for. Harrisonburg VA dentists warn smokers about the risk of these hidden dental problems:

  • Oral Cancer. Smoking is the leading cause of oral cancer, but the symptoms of this deadly disease are almost completely hidden until it’s too late. The early stages of cancer typically develop inside of the lips, tongue, throat, and lining of the mouth. By the time that a cancerous lesion can be seen or felt, there may be little chance of surviving the disease. Fortunately, studies indicate that the risk for oral cancer can be reduced significantly as soon as the habit is quit.
  • Dry mouth. The heat and chemicals for cigarettes can damage the salivary glands and slow the body’s ability to produce adequate amounts of saliva. Research shows that saliva offers a number of protective and healing benefits which are minimized or lost when the mouth is too dry. The beneficial properties of saliva include cavity protection, enamel restoration, acid neutralization, improved digestion, plaque reduction, and breath control.
  • Gum disease. Here’s an interesting one. Smoking increases your risk for gum disease, but also makes the disease more difficult to detect. The chemicals in tobacco cause the gums to become thickened and calloused, preventing them from bleeding or turning red in the presence of infection. This means that the gum tissue and supportive bone are being destroyed even though they may look ‘normal’ on the surface. Many smokers fail to notice the extent of their gum disease until they actually lose a tooth!

The risks associated with smoking are numerous, but many of them are difficult or impossible to detect without help from the leading dentists in Harrisonburg. If you are a smoker who is due for a dental checkup, call to schedule an appointment today.

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