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Smoking puts you at risk for several serious health conditions. These include hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. But did you know smoking can also have a detrimental effect on your oral health? A recent study shows smokers are three to six times more likely to develop advanced gum disease than non-smokers.

A study at Newcastle University School of Dental Sciences in the UK focused on 49 smokers who had chronic periodontal disease. They received counseling to help stop smoking, and of the 49 in the study 1/5th of the subjects quit smoking and saw a marked improvement in their oral health. Other studies have also shown a link between smoking, quitting, and oral health. Once you quit smoking your gums begin to heal and the effects of periodontal disease lessen.

Periodontal disease is an infection. It affects the gums and can lead to loss of teeth. Smoking not only raises your risk for periodontal disease, but it also slows healing. Smokers are also five times likely to experience tooth loss from periodontal disease.

Another danger to smokers is oral cancer. This risk of cancer increases the longer you smoke or chew. About 90 percent of people who develop oral cancer have smoked. In fact, smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop oral cancer. Approximately 37 percent of people who continue to smoke after cancer treatment have a greater risk of developing second cancers of the mouth. On the other hand, only six percent of people who stopped smoking will develop secondary cancers.

You may think smokeless tobacco is a healthy choice. This is not true. Smokeless tobacco has been linked to oral cancers of the gums, cheeks, and inner surface of the lips. The use of smokeless tobacco raises the risk of oral cancer by 50 percent.

As you can see, smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco not only raises the risk of serious health issues, but has a direct effect on your oral health. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting. If have quit, you have taken a crucial step to protecting your overall and oral health. If you have any questions about how your dentist can help you quit smoking, call or contact us today.