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Smoking And Oral Health

THE DISEASE WE USUALLY think of when we hear “health risks of smoking” is lung cancer, but the damage smoking can cause isn’t limited to the lungs. A smoking habit can do a lot of harm to oral health as well, far beyond merely staining the teeth and causing bad breath. Let’s take a look at some of the more common ways this can happen.
 

Smoking Harms The Gums

Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, begins with inflammation of the gums. If untreated, it can lead to extensive damage to gum and supporting bone tissue, and it enables bacteria to spread from the mouth all through the bloodstream. Smoking introduces hundreds of toxins into the mouth, which not only doubles the risk of developing gum disease, it makes it harder to treat.

Whitening Of The Oral Mucosa

Stomatitis Nicotina, or smoker’s keratosis, is the inflammatory swelling of mucous glands in the mouth. This shows up as thick, whitish patches on the roof of the mouth. While it is usually not painful, smoker’s keratosis can be pre-cancerous.

Increased Risk Of Oral Cancer

A staggering 80 percent of people diagnosed with oral cancer are smokers. Oral cancer affects the lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat. Early symptoms include persistent mouth sores or pain, unusual white patches in the mouth, difficulty chewing or swallowing, numbness, swelling, and a sensation of something caught in the throat that won’t go away. Because many of these symptoms can be caught early at a regular dental exam, the dentist is your first line of defense against oral cancer.

The Harm Isn’t Limited To The Smoker

Secondhand smoke combines the smoke from the end of the cigarette with the smoke exhaled by the smoker. Not only does smoking affect the oral health of the smoker, it can put the oral health of everyone around them at increased risk too, in addition to many other negative health effects. Infants and young children are most likely to suffer from this smoke with asthma attacks, infections, and even SIDS.

Breaking The Habit

The good news is that smoking is the most preventable causeof all of these dental health problems, because we can either quit smoking or never start. Even someone with a long history of smoking can significantly reduce their risk of health complications by quitting, so don’t assume there’s nothing to be gained by kicking the habit.

Make The Right Choice For Your Oral Health

If you want help to quit smoking, there are resources all around you. Support from friends, family, and even counselors can be the best help in quitting. You can also check out the CDC’s website for tips and information. As your dental care specialists, we care deeply about your health. We encourage you to quit smoking and schedule a dental exam so that we can make sure your mouth is staying healthy!

We care about the overall health of all our patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.


Preparing For Your Child’s First Dental Visit


First Tooth Pop In? Time To Schedule Their Appointment!

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children have their first dental appointment once their first tooth appears or no later than their first birthday. Although this may seem early for a first visit, there are many reasons for acquainting your child with a dentist so early in their oral development.

The first, and most obvious, is that we are able to monitor the health of their new teeth as they come in. As soon as your little one’s first tooth erupts, he or she can begin to develop cavities. Aside from checking for tooth decay, we check to ensure that their overall oral development is on track and answer any questions you may have about your child’s growing smile.

What To Expect During Your Child’s First Visit

As you prepare your child for their first dental visit, you may begin to wonder what you can expect during their appointment. The first dental visit is often very brief and gives your child an opportunity to meet their dentist in a friendly, non-threatening way. This helps get them acquainted and can help calm your child before their dental exam.

Once your child is ready for their exam, the dentist will:

  • Check their existing teeth for decay
  • Examine their bite and look for any problems with the gums, jaw and oral tissues
  • If discussed beforehand, clean any teeth present

These appointments are also an excellent opportunity for us to share information with you about proper oral care as your child’s smile develops. If you have any questions about your child’s oral hygiene routine, this is a perfect time to ask! We’ll be happy to discuss strategies to help soothe your baby during the teething phase, answer questions about oral habits such as thumb sucking, or share tips about a smile-healthy diet.

After their visit is complete, your dentist will suggest a schedule of follow-up visits based on the unique needs of your child.

Watch the video below to learn more about your child’s first dental visit and how to prepare them for their appointment:

We’ll Make Sure Your Child Leaves With A Smile!

Whether it’s your child’s first visit or their 50th, we’re committed to giving them an experience that helps pave the way for a lifetime of good oral health. If you have any questions about your child’s first visit in our office, feel free to give us a call! We’d love to talk with you about any specific needs they may have for their first appointment.

Thank you for being a part of our practice family!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

How Your Oral And Overall Health Are Linked

WE’VE SAID IT BEFORE AND WE’LL SAY IT AGAIN… taking care of your teeth and mouth is more than just about cosmetics, it’s about your health! When you think of being healthy, your mouth probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But your oral and overall health are more intertwined than you think.

Your Mouth Is The Gateway To The Rest Of Your Body

According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2000 report, “Oral health and general health should not be interpreted as separate entities. … As the gateway of the body, the mouth senses and responds to the external world and at the same time reflects what is happening deep inside the body. … You cannot be healthy without oral health.”

Periodontal Disease And Its Connection To Chronic Diseases

Not only can many illnesses and medications have a direct effect on your mouth, your oral health can also affect your body. This is especially true of periodontal or “gum” disease.

Diabetes

Did you know that gum disease affects 22 percent of people diagnosed with diabetes? People with diabetes have a decreased ability to fight off harmful bacteria and are thus more susceptible to gum disease. In like manner, bacteria from the mouth can cause blood sugar to spike and fluctuate, making diabetes harder to manage.

Heart Disease

While health care professionals aren’t completely sure as to why, heart and gum disease often go hand in hand. In fact, up to 91 percent of patients with heart disease have gum disease. It is believed that the link between these two conditions is inflammation.

Cancer

These statistics may surprise you, but researchers have found that men with gum disease were 54 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, 49 percent more likely to develop kidney cancer and 30 percent more likely to develop blood cancers.

What’s more, cancer treatments often have oral manifestations. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause sores in the mouth, sensitive gums, jaw and facial pain and dry mouth.

Other Complications

Gum disease has also been linked with stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis, certain lung conditions and rheumatoid arthritis. Pregnant women with gum disease are more likely to have preterm births and low birth-weight babies.

The Health Of Your Mouth Is In Your Hands

As you can see, there is a strong connection between oral and overall health. That’s why it’s important to make your dentist a part of your health care team by going to your regular dental appointments and updating them on your medical history. We care about your whole body health!

The good news is that, for the most part, dental disease is entirely preventable. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily can keep gum disease at bay and protect you from cavities. Your oral health is in your hands, so choose to be mouth-healthy!

Thank you for supporting our practice!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.