By Dr. Randall LeDuke, DDS
January is the time of year for Resolutions! So along with your New Year’s vow to lose weight, eat better and exercise more, how about resolving to give up smoking and smokeless tobacco use?
Many Americans have already accomplished this goal. In 2005 almost 21% of adults in the US were smokers. Today that number has reduced to 15%, about 15 of every 100 adults. Cigarettes are still the leading cause of preventable disease in the United States, though, accounting for more than 480,000 annual deaths.
Along with the well-known health consequences of smoking such as lung cancer, chronic, obstructive pulmonary disease and cardio-vascular disease, you might not be aware of the impact tobacco use has on your oral health. That’s why dentists and dental hygienists have a particular interest in helping their patients give it up.
50 percent of smoking adults have gum (periodontal) disease. Tobacco use in the form of cigarettes, cigars or pipe smoking, as well as smokeless tobacco use, are a significant risk factor in the development and progression of gum disease. In turn, research links periodontal disease to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, poorly controlled diabetes, respiratory disease and both premature births and low-birthweight babies.
Smokers are about twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers. Tobacco reduces the body’s ability to fight infections of mouth and gum tissue. Nicotine limits the development of blood vessels during healing and causes constriction of nutrient carrying blood flow to damaged oral tissues. This effect slows healing after oral surgery or from injury.
Smokeless tobacco is a tremendous risk factor associated with cancers of the cheek, gums and tongue. Users of smokeless tobacco are 50 times more likely to develop these cancers than non-users. And, finally, cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff and unprocessed tobacco leaves, (as used in cigar wrappers), contain tiny particles that are abrasive to teeth. When mixed with saliva and chewed, an abrasive paste is created that wears teeth down over time.
Beyond the effects tobacco on users, parents who smoke should be aware how the habit affects their children. Each day nearly 3000 children and teens become regular users of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. Nearly one-quarter of all high school students are smokers. Tobacco companies directly target children in their advertising campaigns, intentionally designing cigarettes with enough nicotine to create and sustain addiction.
And if all this isn’t enough to make you quit cold turkey, consider the yellow teeth, chronic bad breath and that ever-present aroma that clings to the smoker.
Sure, losing the weight and improving your diet are great New Years resolutions. But give up the tobacco too. It will save your mouth and it could even save your life!
Dr. Randall LeDuke is a graduate of the University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry. He is a past president of the Tennessee Academy of General Dentistry, (www.AGD.org)
and has achieved AGD Master status, one of only 48 AGD Master dentists in Tennessee.
Dr. LeDuke holds his permit to administer Limited Conscious Sedation, having received training in this area through the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation. Cosmetic dentistry is a passion with Dr. LeDuke. He is a member of the Tennessee Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and serves on its Board of Directors. Dr. LeDuke is a general dentist, not an Orthodontic Specialist. However, he has treated hundreds of children and adults within his dental practice over the past twenty-five years. Conventional braces, clear ceramic braces and clear aligner orthodontics, (ClearCorrect.com), (invisalign.com) are available at our office. Dr. LeDuke has a special interest in interceptive therapies for achieving improved development and alignment of the jaws of young, growing patients.
Please visit our website Smile Gallery at www.smilesbyleduke.com for some examples. Most dental services can be accessed within our office, eliminating the need for out-of-town referrals. Our patients appreciate Dr. LeDuke’s depth of experience and advanced training through years of continuing dental education.
For more information or a consultation
appointment with Dr. LeDuke, please call:
214 West Church
Union City, TN 38261