How ‘Stoptober’ Can Improve Your Oral Health

If you haven’t already stopped smoking, now might be the right time to do so

dental assessmentWe are now almost halfway through October. This is a month designated by the NHS as ‘stoptober’, a month when people are encouraged to quit smoking once and for all.

Although fewer people now smoke, there are still a significant number who do, and worryingly, a growing number of young people who are starting. Aside from the initial coughing when you start smoking, the effects are usually not felt until several years later, and when they are they can be very serious indeed.

Whilst lung cancer is probably the best known as the one most directly caused by smoking, others can be affected by it too. One that should be quite obvious and which impacts the dental profession is oral cancer. Even if you avoid the many serious health issues associated with smoking, it can still have unpleasant side effects on both the health of your teeth and gums and the appearance of your smile. Today’s blog offers our Epsom dental patients a guide as to why you should quit smoking now.

Oral cancer

Although it may not achieve the same amount of publicity as some other types of cancer, oral, or mouth, cancer still affects a lot of people. It can change lives negatively and can also be fatal. Smoking is, unsurprisingly, one of the major causes of this and stopping smoking is the best way to minimise your risk of having oral cancer.

At the Clocktower Dental, Implant & Facial Centre we check for any signs of this during your regular oral examinations. We are not trained to determine if something unusual that we see is cancerous or not and therefore we will refer you to your GP for further investigation. In most cases, it will probably be something unrelated but it is better to be safe than sorry. If it is cancer, the sooner it is detected the better, and early intervention means that you stand a better chance of a more positive outcome.

Gum disease

As we have mentioned before in our blogs, smoking is also a leading contributor to gum disease. The nicotine in cigarette smoke causes the tiny blood vessels in the gums to narrow, reducing the flow of blood to that area. This increases the chances of infections and is also likely to slow down any healing that is needed.

Smoking also often leads to a dry mouth, itself another indication that gum disease is likely to follow. Although early stage gum disease, known as gingivitis is usually manageable with regular intervention, advanced gum disease, or periodontitis, is not so straightforward and may well result in loose teeth or even tooth loss. In addition to quitting smoking, you should also see our Epsom dental hygienist to have your teeth professionally cleaned every six months or so.

Bad breath

Bad breath, or halitosis, is a potential symptom of gum disease (see above), but even if you avoid this, the smell of cigarette smoke on your breath can be pretty unpleasant to a lot of people. Quitting smoking will help you to have sweeter smelling breath without the need to constantly eat mints etc to mask the smell.

Stained and yellow teeth

Unsurprisingly, one effect of smoking regularly is that it causes teeth to become very stained and yellow in appearance. Much of this is caused by the tar in cigarettes and although brushing will help to slow this down, discolouration of your teeth is pretty much inevitable. However strong and even your teeth are, if they are badly stained, as is often the case in smokers, it will certainly spoil your smile.

Although, when you quit smoking, your general and oral health improves, any staining of your teeth is likely to remain. Depending on the severity of the staining, it may be worth having a teeth whitening procedure initially to see what impact that has on the appearance of your teeth. Generally though, whilst it may improve the colour, if you are a long term smoker, you may well not see as much improvement as you had hoped. In situations like this, we may recommend that you have porcelain veneers fitted instead.

What does ‘stoptober’ offer?

Stoptober offers many things; from an app that you can download to help you quit smoking, to general information and local support groups. It is well worth taking a little time to sit down and read what you can get out of taking part. You can find more information on the Stoptober website .

Once you have succeeded in stopping smoking, why not arrange an appointment to see us so that we can give your mouth a thorough health check and also make any recommendations to make your teeth look attractive again? If you would like to make an appointment to see one of our experienced team, you can do so by calling the Clocktower Dental, Implant & Facial Centre  on 01372 720136.