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General Dentistry Can Combat the Effects of Smoking

Dr. Degel Aug 21, 2015

Man getting a dental examYou brush and floss your teeth every day, and you are careful about how much sugar you eat. However, if you smoke, you are putting your oral health at risk. Smoking increases your risk for gum disease and related damage. Even more alarmingly, it can dramatically raise your risk for oral cancer. If you are a smoker, general dentistry treatments become even more important than usual. Routine cleanings can keep bacteria from accumulating in your soft tissues. At these visits, Dr. Degel or Dr. Every-Degel can also look for early warning signs of oral cancer, recommending life-saving treatment in many cases. However, while our care is certainly vital, no treatment can fully protect your oral health. Quitting smoking is the most effective way to preserve your smile and overall wellness. To learn more about smoking and gum health, contact our Queens practice today.

How Smoking Causes Periodontal Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, can lead to gum recession, inflammation, and chronic bad breath. In severe cases, it can cause tooth loss and serious bone infection. If bacteria build up in your mouth, they will move below your gum line. Then they will form pockets in the soft tissues, and the pockets will grow larger over time. As the pockets grow, your gums will pull away from your jawbone. Smoking lowers your immune system, making it more difficult for your body to combat these microbes. In fact, the CDC reports that smokers are two times more likely to develop periodontitis than nonsmokers.

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

Gum disease is a chronic condition for which there is no cure. That is why preventive cleanings and exams are so important. Your dentist can look for the early warning signs of gingivitis and treat the condition before it develops into full periodontitis. If your condition does progress, scaling and root planing can eliminate bacteria and prevent tooth loss. Following treatment, you should carefully monitor your oral health to prevent periodontal pockets from reforming. We hope to treat all patients before gum disease causes lasting damage. If you have a severe case, you may require surgery, bone grafting, or other more extensive treatments.

How Smoking Causes Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is another serious health concern for smokers. Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, and 70 of these cause cancer. When your oral tissues are constantly exposed to smoke, the carcinogens can cause genetic mutations in the cells. They will start to divide erratically, and growths could develop on your gums, tongue, soft palate, the insides of your cheeks, and other areas.

The Importance of Oral Cancer Screenings

Oral cancer has a relatively high mortality rate, but this is because the condition often goes undiagnosed. Symptoms of oral cancer can include gum irritation and small mouth sores. Unfortunately, many patients ignore these lesions, thinking they are canker or cold sores. For this reason, Drs. Degel and Every-Degel will conduct a cancer screening at each routine checkup. If your dentist sees any unusual spots or abscesses, he or she will typically order a biopsy. Many times, these sores will turn out to be harmless. In other cases, however, early detection could save your life.

Contact Us to Protect Your Smile

If you are a smoker, quality dental care should be a top priority. Contact our office today to schedule an exam, periodontal treatment, or cancer screening. We can also provide guidance to help you quit smoking.  

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