Smoking & Chewing Tobacco
Why lighting up is a big letdown for your oral health…and your good looks!
Everyone talks about what smoking can do to your lungs. And that’s a real danger. But did you know cigarettes and chewing tobacco are just as bad for your teeth and gums, too?
Tobacco hits your mouth before any other part of your body, right? So it makes sense that if tobacco causes lung cancer, it could give you oral cancer, too. Not to mention other damage it does to your oral health.
How tobacco ruins your look
Smoking reduces blood flow to your gums, so important nutrients like vitamin C are cut off and prevent bone healing. When bacteria infect the tissue surrounding teeth (gum disease), deep pockets form between the teeth and gums. This is called gum disease.
Gum disease can destroy the bones that support your teeth, and your gums may recede, causing pain or tooth loss.
How else is tobacco bad for me?
- Bad breath
- Yellow, brown teeth
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing up phlegm
Can’t chew your way out of this
Don’t fool yourself. Chewing tobacco is just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. Maybe even more so, because chew, dip and snuff products have fewer government restrictions.
The really scary part: At least 28 known cancer-causing poisons are linked to smokeless tobacco products. Why give up cash to put poison in your mouth?
Tips to quit smoking for oral health
If you haven’t started smoking or chewing, don’t start. Already smoking and it’s tough to quit? Try this:
- Talk to your parents: Crazy, right? But chances are they’ll be glad you came to them for help and that you want to quit.
- Talk to a guidance counselor: They may be able to direct you to “stop-smoking” programs in your school or community.
- Talk to your doctor: Your doctor will be thrilled you want to quit and can recommend a smoking cessation, or “quit-smoking,” plan for you.
- Find a support group: Many community centers sponsor support groups for people who need a little extra push to kick the habit.