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Smoking and Tooth Loss: Ways to Win the Battle

Poor blood flow in the mouth puts smokers at a higher risk for tooth loss than non-smokers.

We have all been told that smoking is bad for our overall health. But did you know that it's bad for your dental health? Few smokers are aware of the risks to their teeth caused by smoking, so if you are a smoker and are concerned about maintaining healthy teeth and gums, you are already ahead of the game!

In addition to causing unsightly staining and yellowing of teeth, the Academy of General Dentistry reports that smoking one pack of cigarettes per day can lead to the loss of two teeth every 10 years. This means that if you start smoking one pack each day at 18, by the time you are 35 years old you could lose four or five teeth!

Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of chronic gum disease, which also leads to tooth loss in its advanced stages, because it restricts blood flow to the gums and weakens your teeth's support structure. Since gum disease is usually painless in its early stages, you may not realize that you are developing it, so it is important to have regular dental visits and speak with your dentist if you notice inflammation.

The good news is that studies have shown that long-term smokers begin to cut their risk of tooth loss and gum disease almost as soon as they quit! If you take good care of your teeth, visit your dentist regularly and kick the smoking habit you can decrease your risk of tooth loss immediately by 21 percent and by maintaining this routine your risk will drop an additional 41 percent.

Cigar and pipe smokers and chewing tobacco users are also at a heightened risk for tooth loss and periodontal disease. Other risks related to tobacco use are oral cancer, bad breath, tooth discoloration, loss of taste, mouth sores and facial wrinkling.