Each year, smoking kills over 480,000 Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco is the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the country.
Smoking-related illnesses in the US leads to more than 300 billion US dollars a year in costs.
Aside from lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and fertility problems, cigarettes and chewing tobacco pose problems to your oral health.
What does smoking do to your teeth?
Smoking can cause bad breath and chronic gum problems, which can eventually lead to tooth loss. Tobacco use affects the teeth’ bone attachment and soft tissue and interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells.
Smoking also results in tooth discoloration and a dulled sense of taste and smell.
Also, it impedes the healing after tooth extraction or surgery and lowers the success rate of cosmetic dental procedures as smoking impairs blood flow to the gums.
It can also increase the risk of developing mouth cancer.
People who use pipes and cigars can experience tooth loss and alveolar bone loss or bone loss within the jawbone anchoring the teeth at rates equivalent to cigarette smokers.
Pipe and cigar smokers can also suffer oral or pharyngeal cancer and other oral consequences.
Smokeless tobacco products pose the same risk of mouth cancer and other oral-related problems. These products contain at least 28 chemicals shown to increase the risk of oral cancer and cancer of the throat and esophagus. By chewing tobacco, nicotine levels are higher, while snuffing delivers more nicotine than over 60 cigarettes.
Other additions like sugar, sand, and grit to smokeless tobacco products aggravate the dental problems that may be experienced via snuffing and chewing.
What should you do?
Although practicing good oral hygiene is advised, the best recommendation to prevent smoking-related oral problems is to quit. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), quitting is the only way to decrease your risk of tobacco-related health problems.
Consult with your dentist or doctor to help you break the habit.
Medications are available over-the-counter or through prescription to soothe your nicotine cravings.
Smoking cessation classes and support groups will aid along with drug therapy. Hypnosis, acupuncture, or other herbal remedies may also be helpful in kicking the habit of smoking.
Self-control and the proper mindset are necessary for breaking the habit of smoking.
It is also never too late to quit as doing so can reduce the risks related to it than doing nothing.
Why Smoking Hookah Is As Bad As Cigarette Smoking
In 2014, research in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention journal debunked the myth that smoking hookah is less harmful than tobacco use.
The use of hookah began in ancient Persia (present-day Iran) and India centuries ago. Today, the use of hookahs is still present.
Today, many hookah cafes have sprung across the globe in Britain, France, Russia, the United States, and the Middle East. The activity is frequent in social gatherings. In hookah cafes, guests often sit or lie on cushions and immerse themselves in conversation.
Many users of the instrument, which are mostly high school seniors and college students, believe it is less harmful than smoking tobacco.
But University of California researchers found that the nicotine levels are over 70 times in hookah smokers’ urine. As most of us are aware, nicotine is one of many cancer-causing agents.
The urine samples of 55 healthy people were examined before and after they spent an evening smoking hookah and the morning after. The 55 respondents used an average of 0.6 bowls of waterpipe tobacco and spent 74 minutes smoking hookah.
The analysis shows that urine levels increased by 73 times while cotinine levels saw a four-fold rise after smoking. The breakdown products of carcinogenic chemicals and the breakdown of volatile organic compounds also increased two-fold, by 14 to 91 percent, respectively.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hookah poses many of the same health risks of cigarette smoking. Their similar hazards include cancer and heart disease.
Charcoal used to heat the tobacco produces high levels of carbon monoxide and cancer-causing chemicals. Though the tobacco passes through water, its smoke still contains high levels of toxic agents that can trigger lung, bladder, and oral cancer.
Tobacco juices from hookahs can irritate the mouth, increasing the risk of oral cancer development.
Aside from a higher risk of cancer, hookah tobacco can clog arteries and cause heart disease due to its toxic agents. The hookah culture of passing the pipe around and taking turns smoking can lead to the passing of infections.
Hookah smoking also affects babies born to women who smoke a hookah. Smoking water pipes can lead to lower birth weight in babies. It may also trigger the development of respiratory diseases in the fetus or newborn.
Like cigarette smoking, hookah smokers are at risk of lung, stomach, oral, and esophagus cancers. It also reduces lung function and fertility.
Also, secondhand smoke from a hookah is risky to nonsmokers.
The CDC discourages people from subscribing to hookah smoking as it is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. Due to the health risks, it imposes on smokers and nonsmokers, refraining from hookah smoking is important in many dental and health professionals’ eyes.
Secondhand Smoke is Bad for Children
Despite saying no to smoking, nonsmokers can potentially be afflicted with the same health issues as active smokers due to secondhand smoking. According to CDC, approximately 2.5 million nonsmokers have died since 1964 due to secondhand smoking.
Passive or secondhand smoking has links to life-threatening conditions among all age groups and can cause heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke among nonsmoking adults.
Children exposed to secondhand smoke can suffer ear infections, coughing, severe asthma, or respiratory symptoms like bronchitis and pneumonia. They may also suffer a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS.
Aside from the health issues on children mentioned above, secondhand smoke can also lead to oral health problems. Research has found that the exposure of children to secondhand smoke slows the development of their oral health. As a result, it heightens the risk of tooth decay development. According to a study led by Dr. Andrew Aligne of the University of Rochester, the rate of children with cavities doubles in a household where exposure secondhand smoke is present.
The conclusion was derived from an assessment of almost 4,000 children ages four to 11 and a measure of the cotinine level in their blood. Cotinine is an alkaloid in tobacco and the predominant metabolite of nicotine, the main stimulatory compound in cigarettes. Nicotine converts to cotinine via inhalation.
The findings reveal that out of the 4,000 children, 47 percent had cavities in their baby teeth and 26 percent had it in their permanent teeth.
How Vaping is Damaging Your Health
Electronic cigarettes, e-cigs, or vaping, have been marketed as an alternative to cigarettes. Manufacturers and retailers of e-cigarettes claim that the product is a cleaner and healthier therapeutic alternative to help smokers kick the habit. Regardless of whether it poses less harmful effects to one’s health than conventional cigarettes, though, experts agree they still aren’t safe. Nicotine inhalation puts the person’s dental health and overall well-being at risk.
Is vaping bad for your teeth?
Yes. Although they may not be as harmful to cigarettes, vaping is not risk-free.
Vaping can cause gum disease.
Just like smoking cigarettes, vaping can cause gum problems due to the ingestion of nicotine. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor compound. This means that it has the potential to prompt the muscular wall of the blood vessels to contract. These contractions can lead to reduced blood flow. As a result, this can eventually lead to a higher risk of gum disease due to the prolonged decline of oxygen and nutrient supply. Gum disease signs and symptoms include persistent bad breath, bleeding gums, gum recession, and wobbly teeth.
Vaping May Cause Cancer
According to research, smoking e-cigarettes can deliver cancer-causing chemicals to the body. In the research conducted by a team of researchers from the University of California, it was found that high levels of cancer-causing chemicals are present in the bodies of those who vape than nonsmokers.
Vaping Still Damages Your Lungs
Moreover, diacetyl, a cancer-causing chemical blamed for “popcorn lung” or bronchiolitis obliterans was found in e-cigarette vapor. “Popcorn lung” damages the smallest airways of the lungs, causing coughing and shortness of breath.
However, e-cigarettes are relatively new. Thus, studies on them remain limited. Extensive studies and research on e-cigarettes and vaping’s health effects are necessary to fully establish its effects.
Why Does Vaping Hurt Your Throat?
Unlike cigarettes where concentrated amounts of nicotine combined with tar help increase saliva production as your body’s way of protecting your mouth’s epithelial cells from the heat, e-cigarettes do not do the same. Instead, vaping does the opposite. This is because of propylene glycol, a synthetic organic compound that is colorless, nearly odorless, and has a faintly sweet taste.
Propylene glycol gathers air moisture in the mouth when you inhale. Thus, a sore or dry throat and mouth may be experienced. In fact, this condition is common among new users of e-cigarettes who are trying to quit smoking.
The Truth About E-cigarettes
The fluid used in electronic cigarettes often contains nicotine and chemicals that can endanger one’s oral health. With the current popularity of these products and being considered a “safer” alternative to regular cigarettes, consumers are wrongly informed about the harmful effects of vaping devices.
In fact, the belief that these products do not come with a threat is misleading. Thus, young people, smokers, and even non-smokers are more persuaded to try them. Even some consumers refuse to do further research on these products in regard to their safety. Thus, many already accept these as replacements for traditional cigarettes.
If people think about the history of traditional cigarettes, they may recall their significant impact on popular culture and society. Moreover, at one time, it was challenging to find someone who did not smoke. Admittedly, the potentiality that these addictive products would risk people’s oral health was definitely far from anyone’s thoughts.
Smoking was an adoration for many. However, its effects were also underestimated, a reason why many are now either searching for ways to quit or are looking for safer alternatives.
Research and Regulations on E-cigarettes
Researchers suggest that electronic cigarettes contain higher levels of chemical toxins that oppose other reports that e-cigarettes are harmless. In actuality, these vaping devices come with chemicals like acetaldehyde, propylene glycol, formaldehyde, and carcinogenic chemicals. As a result of long-term use, fatal diseases such as oral cancer may occur.
Sadly, electronic cigarette users are unaware of the fact that these products cause more harm than good. In fact, their higher vulnerability to certain ailments compared to the use of conventional cigarettes is alarming.
It is hard to overlook how these electronic cigarettes affect one’s oral health. More than that, authentic cigars follow specific regulations unlike hookah pens and electronic cigars. Surprisingly, the latter products do not come with labels and are often sold over the counter.
Considering most e-cigarettes still contain nicotine, remember that these smoking alternatives can damage the gums, mouth, and tongue.
Specifically, the nicotine in these products can cause tooth decay, dry mouth, periodontal disease, loss of teeth, and gingivitis among other unknown ailments. The USFDA revealed that e-cigarettes contain a toxin that is mainly found in antifreeze and can lead to certain cancers.
Unfortunately, countless individuals are unaware that electronic cigarettes contain a lot of cancer-causing chemicals.
One important fact about using e-cigarette is that the nicotine in its cartridges is certified addictive. This means that when the person halts using it, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. Restlessness, irritability, anxiety, and depression may result.
Further, it can be risky for people who are suffering from heart complications. This may also impair the arteries over time.
So, before using e-cigarettes, it is advisable to learn more about their pros and cons. Additionally, be mindful of the risks.