Addressing habits which compromise your oral health
The last few months have been difficult for most of us in one way or another. Whether you were unable to work and are worried about your finances, missed the social interaction of friends and family or simply found that your anxiety levels were raised due to concern about the effect of the virus on yourself and those around you, no doubt you will be relieved that the number of infections is slowly decreasing.
As we start to return to some sort of ‘normality’; it is worth sitting down and looking at habits that possibly became more pronounced during lockdown and which are harmful to both general and oral health.
At the Cygnet Dental Practice in Wickford, we believe in an all round approach to good oral care. This includes helping patients to take preventative measures as well as treating existing problems. In today’s blog we take a look at smoking which, as well as being well known to contribute to lung and heart disease, can also have a devastating effect on our oral health.
Smoking and mouth cancer
The most serious of oral infections that smoking plays a major role in is undoubtedly oral cancer. This can affect any of the soft tissue of the mouth, head and neck areas. It can manifest in a number of symptoms including:
- Sore or red patches in the mouth
- White patches of the soft tissue
- Loose teeth
- Formation of lumps or bumps on the soft tissues
- Difficulty in swallowing
When you attend our Wickford practice for your six monthly checkup, we make sure to look for any of these, or other unusual symptoms. We are not qualified to determine if these symptoms are due to cancer, and could indeed be caused by other factors. As it is important that any signs such as these are investigated thoroughly, we may refer you to your GP. If we do this, please remember that this is a precautionary approach and does not necessarily mean that we have detected that you have cancer. This will need to be further investigated by your GP or any specialist they refer you to.
Smoking and gum disease
Smoking is also a major contributor to gum disease and tooth loss. Not only does the smoke that you inhale sometimes lead to irritation of the soft tissue but also causes dryness of the mouth. This means that the harmful bacteria that would normally be washed away by saliva, no longer are, and therefore an increase in the number of bacteria is inevitable.
As we have explained in previous blogs, this increase in bacteria means more harm to your gums, causing soreness, redness and bad breath amongst other symptoms. As gum disease worsens, it starts to affect the teeth right down to the roots and the surrounding bone. As this bone then deteriorates, the teeth may become loose and fall out.
It is beneficial for everyone, but smokers especially should regularly have their teeth and gums professionally cleaned by a dental hygienist. Even better, do this AND stop smoking for a healthier mouth!
Smoking and your finances
The Covid-19 situation will have had a large impact on many people’s finances and this may continue for some time. A quick look at a cigarette price list shows that a packet of 20 cigarettes now retail at approximately £9.50. A quick calculation shows that even if you smoke ten a day, this will cost you just short of £1750 each year. This is a significant sum of money (and many people smoke more too!) that could be used for more positive things. It would go a long way to a nice holiday when we can fly again, for example.
Even those who are fortunate enough to avoid serious dental problems from smoking will still find that their teeth are affected. No regular smoker will avoid staining of the teeth for example. One good motivation to remain a non smoker when you have stopped is to get rid of that staining which can be done either using a teeth whitening procedure or dental veneers where staining is more significant. A new, whiter smile will help you to keep up your motivation never to start again.
Although there have been some bumps on the road coming out of lockdown; with common sense and adherence to safety guidelines, the improvement will hopefully continue.
We hope to be able to see all of you soon at the Cygnet Dental Practice and are doing all that we can to re-introduce a relatively ‘normal’ service as soon as possible. If you would like to make an appointment or contact us about a dental problem, please call us on 01268 733078.