You just got the reminder call from your dentist that your dental appointment is coming up later this week. Do you find yourself suddenly changing what you have been doing in hopes that all will be good in your mouth by the time you are at your dental appointment? If so, you’re not alone!
Many people realize that their daily habits aren’t helping their oral health. Throwing out your cigarettes the day before your dental cleaning probably won’t help you this time around. You know your dentist always asks if you smoke, but can a dentist tell if you smoke by looking in your mouth?
Tell Tale Signs Of Smoking
The truth is, yes, your dentist can tell if you have been smoking. Here are some ways that your dentist can tell if you are smoking:
- Nicotine can stain your teeth – when nicotine mixes with your saliva, it creates yellow or brown stains on your teeth. The more your smoke, the more the stain seems to accumulate.
- Nicotine causes dry mouth – nicotine works to reduce the salivary flow in your mouth.
- Mouth burns – those who smoke sometimes experience mouth burns
- Tooth wear – Nicotine is a muscle stimulant that can lead to bruxism. Bruxism is when you clench or grind your teeth, which can lead to more severe problems like headaches or broken teeth.
- Cavities – those who smoke are often more prone to cavities.
- Disease masking – Typically, when a patient has gum disease, their gum tissue is red and inflamed. Often smokers who have gum disease don’t experience the same redness in their tissue. Their tissue appears deceptively healthy.
What About Vaping?
Many people think that vaping is safer than smoking because vaping doesn’t have tobacco. The truth is that vaping contains nicotine, and nicotine leads to many of the same health and oral effects as smoking. Don’t be fooled by thinking that vaping is a safe alternative to tobacco. You can suffer from the same staining, dry mouth, tooth wear, and cavities that traditional smokers do.
I’m A Smoker. What Can I Do To Improve My Oral Health?
If you smoke, one of the best things you can do to improve your health is to quit smoking. The quitting process can be a challenging one since nicotine is addictive. Most people go through a withdrawal process when they quit smoking. The withdrawal symptoms may include cravings, headaches, irritability, and sore throat.
Remedies for nicotine withdrawal include:
- Keeping your mouth busy with sugar-free gum or mints
- Use nicotine therapy replacement like gum or the patch
- Try exercising when a craving hits
- Visit a place where you can’t smoke
- Start a new routine and replace your smoke break with this new routine
I’ve Tried Quitting, And It’s Just Not Working Right Now. What Can I Do?
Don’t lose hope! Even if now isn’t the right time for you to quit smoking, there are many other essential things that you can do today to improve your oral health. Here are a few ideas that you can implement today:
- Drinking lots of water will help to keep your mouth hydrated.
- Brushing and flossing twice a day will help to keep bacteria under control.
- Stick with sugar-free gum or mints since those with sugar can cause more problems with decay.
- Visit your dentist on a routine basis. Routine dental visits will ensure that if anything is going on, it is caught in the early stages before it becomes a bigger problem.
Have more questions about smoking or looking for support in the quitting process? Reach out to our office for more cessation ideas and get your questions answered.