Smokers are well-aware that smoking cigarettes is bad for their health. They don’t need a lecture on this. We understand that smoking is an addictive habit and very difficult to break in spite of the individual knowing its harmful repercussions.
Fortunately, the health issues related to smoking have become so well-known that it seems to be having an impact on its prevalence. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) recently shared, “The percentage of U. S. adults who smoke cigarettes declined from 20.9% in 2005 to 16.8% in 2014. Cigarette smoking was significantly lower in 2014 (16.8%) than in 2013 (17.8%).”
For those who have not yet kicked the habit, there are some newly troubling statistics on how smoking affects one’s overall health. These include:
• Smokers shorten their life expectancy and average of 10 – 15 years.
• Smoking is responsible for an estimated 30% of all cancers and deaths.
• Smoking is the cause for 90% of all lung cancers and increases the risk of pancreatic, cervical, kidney, liver, bladder and stomach cancer as well as leukemia.
• Smoking is a cause for emphysema and other respiratory diseases, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
• Smoking and chewing tobacco cause 80 – 90% of oral cancers (mouth, lips, throat). For smokers who also drink alcohol, the risk of oral cancer is even greater than the combined percentage of those who only smoke or only drink alcohol.
• Pregnant women who smoke have a greater risk of first trimester spontaneous abortions, placenta abruption, preterm births, low birth weight babies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
• Females who smoke have a greater potential for early menopause.
• Men who smoke have higher risk for sperm abnormalities and impotency.
• About half of inhaled smoke is exhaled.
• Second-hand smoke contributes to the development of numerous diseases in others who do not smoke, including cancer and heart disease.
• Young children whose parents smoke are sick more often, have more bronchitis and pneumonia, are more likely to cough and wheeze, and get more ear infections.
As a dentist, I see the firsthand damage of smoking early since the mouth is a cigarette’s entry point into the body. In addition to the risks listed above, smokers have a higher risk for periodontal (gum) disease, bad breath, stained teeth, higher levels of dental plaque, and slower healing periods after extractions, gum therapy or oral surgery. Smoking is also one of the top causes for dental implant failure.
Smoking is drying to oral tissues. This creates an ideal environment for the reproduction and accumulation of oral bacteria. As this develops into gum disease, initial symptoms will include persistent bad breath, tender gums that bleed easily when brushing and gums that deepen in color. Eventually, pus pockets form and the bone and tissues that support tooth roots will be damaged. In advanced stages, teeth loosen and require removal.
If you have failed to consider your smile in the many reasons to NOT smoke, imagine losing your smile and having to wear dentures or partials to replace the teeth you lost due to the effects of smoking.
As we get closer to the new year, consider making “Stop Smoking” your number one priority in 2017. There are a number of online support sources for those wanting to quit, including helpful tips from the American Cancer Society’s site:
If you smoke, know what smoking does to your life and imagine the benefits of living without this habit that is costly to your wallet and your health. Our goal is to support all of our patients. We are here for your smile regardless of your choices and proudly offer a ‘lecture-free’ dental office.
Call 910-254-4555 to schedule a free consultation or begin with an examination to determine your current needs. Let us help you keep your smile its very best for the coming year and beyond!