'Quitting smoking is easy! I've done it a thousand times!'
- Mark Twain
As a smoker, you are aware of the various health warnings provided on cigarette boxes. And yet, in spite of the new, more graphic depictions being printed on the packaging of your favorite anytime past-time, you still manage to maintain a distance between yourself and these health warnings. You're far too young to worry about heart disease, aren't you?
But what about your teeth?
You don't need to be a heavy lifelong smoker to begin to see the impact of this habit on your pearly whites, warns the Arlington Texas dentist. Tooth discoloration, chronic bad breath, gum inflammation, taste and smell impediment, dry mouth and 'black hairy tongue' are but a few of the ramifications of an addiction to tobacco smoking.
In the first installment of this three-part article series, the Arlington Texas dentist provided an in-depth account of both the short and long term consequences of smoking on your oral health. Now, in this article, the second installment, we shall be focusing more on some helpful oral healthcare recommendations for smokers. Armed with these tips, the Arlington TX dentist hopes that those who have been actively trying to kick the habit (or at least entertaining the idea) will find the resolve to finally do so.
Arlington Texas Dentist: Recommendations
Sure, it's easy to say 'stop smoking,' which is the Arlington Texas dentist's main recommendation. It's never too late to reduce and minimize the health risks, so the sooner you do, the less your chance of doing lasting and permanent damage. But quitting is far easier said than done. Most smokers have tried and failed to quit. Most smokers will try many, many times to kick the habit before they finally succeed, remarks the Arlington Texas dentist. Nicotine addiction is only the tip of the iceberg really. Within 72 hours of smoking cessation, all the nasty associated chemicals will have left your body and your physical dependence thereon, beaten. It's the strong psychological addiction that represents a smoker's biggest battle, explains the Arlington Texas dentist.
Here are some fundamental oral health and hygiene tips from the Arlington TX dentist for smokers:
Firstly, it has to be said: Stop smoking or chewing tobacco!
Be extra strict about keeping those bi-annual appointments with the Arlington Texas dentist and oral hygienist. This will enable him or her to provide the preventative healthcare you need to combat the effects of smoking on your teeth and gums. They'll also be able to perform thorough checks for oral cancer.
Maintain a rigorous home oral hygiene routine. As a smoker, you are at a much greater risk of periodontal (gum) disease, explains the Arlington Texas dentist. Due to lower saliva production (the mouth's natural defense against bacteria), impeded blood circulation and a compromised immune system, smokers will naturally have greater numbers of oral bacteria and therefore, a greater and speedier build-up of plaque and tartar in their mouths. For this reason, it is essential that you brush and floss regularly and thoroughly, advises the Arlington Texas dentist. Also, use a tongue cleaner to scrape bacteria off your tongue and use an anti-bacterial mouthwash as an extra precaution. Complement this routine with regular dental hygiene appointments at the Arlington Texas dentist's office.
Learn how to perform a thorough check for oral and throat cancer. According to the Arlington Texas dentist, this involves checking for:
i. Red, white or dark patches on the soft tissues in the mouth (gums, palate, cheeks and on or under the tongue.)
ii. Frequent bleeding in the mouth, says the Arlington TX dentist.
iii. Sores around the mouth, face or neck that persist for more than two weeks.
iv. Numbness, loss of feeling or pain at any location in the mouth, says the Arlington Texas dentist.
v. Bumps, swelling or lumps on the neck, gums, lips, cheeks, tongue, palate or anywhere else in the mouth and on the face.
If any of these patches, sores or bumps do not disappear within two weeks, immediately schedule an appointment with the Arlington Texas dentist. He or she will perform a biopsy on the anomaly to determine whether it is cancerous or not.
Interesting Note: Regular brushing and the fresh, minty, clean feeling it leaves in the mouth can actually help to restrain the urge to smoke, says the Arlington Texas dentist. So, keep a toothbrush and some anti-bacterial mouthwash handy while you battle your addiction and it could provide you with the little extra encouragement you need!
Arlington Texas Dentist: Stay Tuned
Now that the Arlington Texas dentist has provided some tips on how to manage your oral health and hygiene as a smoker, we shall move on to answering some of your frequently asked questions. Stay tuned for the third and final installment of the Arlington TX dentist's article series on the impact of tobacco use on one's oral health.