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.