Oral Cancer -- If lung cancer isn't scary enough, smoking greatly increases your chances of getting oral cancer. In fact, 90% of oral cancer patients are smokers.
Unfortunately, there's no tobacco substitute for cigarette smoking. Pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco all have the same effects on your oral health as cigarettes. So no matter what your preference, any tobacco product you choose won't be better for you than the next.
It Doesn’t End There
Not only are smokers bound to have dental problems, but the more you smoke, the worse they will get. According to the Journal of Periodontology, researchers found a direct correlation between the number of cigarettes smoked and gum disease -- those who smoked less than half a pack per day were three times as likely to suffer from advanced periodontal disease, and those who smoked more than a pack and a half per day were six times at risk.
Unfortunately, smokers also tend to be more careless with their oral health. But even if you are practicing excellent oral hygiene, you won't greatly improve your chances of preventing some of the oral problems associated with smoking. Tobacco products often contain gritty materials that work like sandpaper against your teeth, and once tooth enamel is damaged, it doesn't grow back. You should also consider that if cancer-causing agents enter your system, they can't be brushed away!
You Can Do It!
The nicotine in cigarettes is highly addictive, and keeps smokers reaching for their packs. But as hard as it is, you can -- and should -- quit smoking. Abandoning the habit will significantly decrease the risk of many health problems. Nicotine gum and patches, herbal remedies, therapy and support groups are all available to help you stop smoking.
The effects of smoking make it extremely difficult to live a healthy lifestyle. So if you don't smoke, don't start. If you are a smoker and looking to quit, start by seeing a dentist to evaluate your dental health and get an oral cancer exam. Your dentist can help you decide on a plan to quit smoking, and will provide any necessary dental treatment to repair the damage that's been done. If you care about your health, you'll take the steps to improve it -- and prolong your life in the process!