“Tobacco use is a risk factor for oral cancers, periodontal disease and dental caries among other diseases.” – U.S. Surgeon General’s Report
1. Does smoking make me less attractive?
- Smokers have unattractive mouths. Non-smokers are acutely aware of being close to a smoker.
- Smoking causes unattractive brown stains on teeth.
- These stains are not easy to remove without professional help.
- Smoking causes bad breath.
- A combination of bad breath and stained teeth cannot be considered attractive!
2. Is there a direct connection between tooth loss and smoking?
- According to research done in the U.S.A., smokers are twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers.
- Smoking leads to gum disease, which shrinks the alveolar bone. This results in tooth loss.
3. How can smoking lead to the loss of teeth?
- Smoking has a detrimental effect on oral hygiene.
- Smoking helps to build up plaque on teeth, which causes gum disease.
- The receding gums will be red and swollen.
- Use of tobacco is thought to restrict the flow of blood to the gums.
- This can have a direct effect on the gums, causing gum disease.
- This is achieved by preventing nutrients from reaching the tissues around the teeth.
- The supporting bone will also recede and the tooth will become loose. Loose teeth either fall out or have to be extracted.
4. Why should I give up smoking?
- Giving up smoking reduces the risk of cancer, tooth loss and other oral conditions:
- Most importantly, giving up smoking reduces the possibility of heart disease.
- Your breath will be fresher.
- Your mouth will taste sweeter.
- Nicotine stains that have been professionally removed will not recur.
- Smokers may also develop a condition called nicotinic stomatitis.
It is an inflammation of the mouth that is not cancerous. It is illustrated below.
5. Is there a direct connection between smoking and oral cancer?
- The connection has been proved beyond any doubt:
- Smoking can cause cancer in the mouth, the respiratory system or anywhere else in the body.
- Smoking is the main cause of cancer in the mouth and throat.
- Excessive alcohol use together with smoking increases the risk of cancer.
- Research in the U.S.A. indicates that 75% of oral cancer is caused by a combination of smoking and alcohol.
- Smokers with oral cancer are more likely to die of the disease than non-smokers with oral cancer.
- Exposure to the sun’s rays and to X-rays in combination with smoking is thought to cause cancer of the mouth and lips.
- Betel-nut chewing, together with tobacco use, is considered to be cancer forming.
6. How does smoking cause oral cancer?
- “There is evidence that smoking suppresses the immune system, and this may be one of the ways in which smoking acts as a major risk factor in oral cancer.” U.S. Surgeon General Report
- Tobacco contains carcinogenic substances.
- The most damaging substance is in the tobacco tar.
- Leucoplakia is caused by smoking. It is seen as raised white patches or mouth sores, and is a pre-cancerous condition.
- Cancer may develop from these smoking-induced mouth sores.
- These problems are compounded by a combination of smoking and alcohol.
- Alcohol helps these carcinogenic substances to penetrate the oral tissues.
7. Does cigar or pipe smoking also cause oral cancer?
- Smoking tobacco in any form can cause cancer. This includes cigars, pipes and cigarettes.
- Because the hot pipe stem rests on the lower lip, this is often where pipe smokers get cancer.
- Mouth cancers occur on the lips, the tongue and the floor of the mouth
8. Does the use of alcohol aggravate the effects of smoking?
- A combination of alcohol and tobacco smoke are thought to increase the risk of oral cancers.
- Alcohol helps the carcinogenic substances in tobacco smoke to penetrate the tissues.
9. Is chewing tobacco or taking snuff a safe form of tobacco use?
- Tobacco-use is carcinogenic.
- Chewing tobacco (spit tobacco), snuff and all tobacco products are thought to cause cancer.