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Ballston Dental Arts
900 N Taylor Street, Suite 150, Arlington, VA 22203

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Breaking the Tobacco Cycle for Better Oral Health

Quitting tobacco is hard. With support and motivation, however, it’s possible. At Ballston Dental Arts in Arlington, we’re happy to provide all the support and motivation you need. We’re in your corner. Our priority is your healthy smile.

Tobacco steals away your smile’s health and its beauty. You’re likely well aware of the damage tobacco causes to your lungs and heart. Did you know the damage it can do to your oral health as well? Tobacco stains teeth, makes it harder to treat infections, lengthens your healing time after procedures, and significantly raises your risk for developing oral cancer, a potentially deadly condition.

Neither smoking nor chewing tobacco is “safe.” Both are deeply detrimental to your wellbeing. Regardless of which one you currently use, you can count on your Arlington dentists to work with you and your primary care provider to help you successfully break free from tobacco.

Three Ways Tobacco Harms Your Smile

1. Aesthetics

The effects of tobacco are almost immediately noticeable in the appearance of your smile. Tobacco creates stains on your teeth that are extremely difficult to remove—especially since they are added to with every cigarette or pinch of chew. These dark stains dull your smile.

Adding to that, smoking and chewing tobacco cause bad breath. Tobacco leads to sulfurous deposits in your gum tissue, which create a distinctive “smoker breath” smell. Because smoking and chewing tobacco also dull your sense of taste and smell, you likely won’t be aware of it, but know that others will be.

2. Infection and Healing

The chemicals in tobacco, especially nicotine, cause an effect known as vasoconstriction. This means that they shrink the blood vessels in tissue, reducing blood flow to the area. This makes it harder to heal from injuries, dental procedures, and infections, making proper dental care and routine procedures more challenging.

It also makes it much more likely that you will develop the chronic infection known as periodontitis, or gum disease. People who smoke are twice as likely to develop gum disease as nonsmokers, and because healing is impacted, the disease can progress faster and do more damage.

Gum disease is the number one cause of lost teeth. As the tissue becomes more damaged, the infection affects the roots of the teeth, weakening them to the point where teeth become loose and then, finally, fall out. Many long-term smokers deal with missing teeth, often requiring dentures or other tooth replacement options to be able to eat and speak comfortably.

3. Oral Cancer

Here are the facts:

  • People who smoke are six times more likely to develop oral cancer than people who don’t.
  • People who chew tobacco are 50 times more likely to develop oral cancer than people who don’t.
  • Approximately 90 percent of people who develop oral cancer are tobacco users.

It’s not our intent to scare you, but it’s important for you to understand the potential risks of tobacco use. Oral cancer is a deadly disease; however, it can be prevented.

How Quitting Tobacco Helps Your Oral Health

Some of the effects of quitting will be noticeable right away. A dental cleaning will help improve your breath and the appearance of staining. In time, your stains will fade since they are no longer being constantly added to. You may also want to consider a professional teeth whitening. For many patients, it feels like a fresh start—and you’ll also feel motivated to stay strong in the face of temptation since you don’t want to damage your rejuvenated smile.

Over the next year, your gum health and ability to heal from infections will also improve. We can help with gum disease treatments like deep cleaning along with scaling and root planing. This helps remove the infection-causing bacteria and keeps them from coming back. If needed, more intensive treatments are also available.

If you have already experienced tooth loss, don’t worry. We can restore your smile and complete your chewing surface with restorative dentistry treatments like bridges, crowns, dental implants, or dentures, depending on your unique needs.

Over the next five to ten years after quitting tobacco, your risk for developing oral cancer will be cut in half. We’ll offer regular cancer screenings at your check-ups to monitor for any signs of cancer. Early detection is critical for the best chance of treating oral cancer.

Make Your Next Appointment Today

Are you ready to quit? We’re here to help. Give us a call and schedule a visit at our Arlington dental office with one of our empathetic dentists. We’ll provide you with support and resources to help you break free from tobacco. We believe in you.

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Ballston Dental Arts

900 N Taylor Street, Suite 150, Arlington, VA 22203

(703) 291-3111