Dr. Stephen D. Sims, DDS
4700 Brainerd Road
Chattanooga, TN 37411

Oral Health & Tobacco Use

In the United States, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death.  Smoking and exposure to second hand smoke accounts for approximately 443,000 deaths per year.  Over 8 million people live with a serious, smoking related illness.  Tobacco products are very harmful to your mouth, teeth and gums.

Smoking leads to reduced blood flow to oral tissues which can cause gum disease, bone loss and eventual tooth loss.  There will be reduced saliva flow that can make your teeth more susceptible to decay.  Salivary flow is important for cleaning your mouth of food residue.

Smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco can negatively affect the appearance of your teeth,cause bad breath and decrease your sense of taste.  Tobacco exposure will lead to inflammation of the roof of the mouth, oral mucosa and gums making the development of cancer more likely.

Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer.  More than 43,000 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with oral cancer in 2015, leading to over 8,000 deaths.  People that use cigars, dip(snuff) and chewing tobacco have the same risk as cigarette smokers.

E-cigarettes (electronic nicotine delivery systems) have grown in popularity over the past decade and there is not as much research on their health effects.  They are still not recommended for use.  It is suggested that nicotine inhalation makes one susceptible to bacterial build up in the mouth, tooth decay and dry mouth.

Since nicotine is so addictive, stopping smoking and tobacco use can be very difficult.  The most successful techniques utilize nicotine replacement therapies (e.g. nasal spray, patches, gum, inhalers and lozenges).  All of these products are available over the counter.  Prescriptionmedicines are also available.  Talk to your dentist or other health care provider.

It’s never too late to quit and quitting will increase your longevity.