If you use tobacco, you know that you should probably quit. There are just too many health problems caused by smoking or chewing. But did you know that tobacco can ruin your smile?

Call our Birmingham, AL dental office today at 205-545-8007 to schedule your next appointment for a dental exam. Dr. Perrigo is your Birmingham dentist who can spot the dental problems caused (or made worse) by tobacco and offer treatments to help protect your smile.

Tobacco Is About More Than Just Oral Cancer

You likely know the biggest dental problem caused by tobacco use: oral cancer. Our Birmingham dentist can check for any signs of oral cancer during a thorough dental exam. But there are several other dental problems that involve tobacco.

Your gums can get irritated and even infected with bacteria.

Your gums are not designed to handle the irritants in smoke, chew, or vaping. Because of that, using tobacco will start to irritate your gums. Tobacco also weakens your immune system. Combined together, that’s why you can more easily get gum disease and even a bacterial infection in your gum tissues.

Cigars and chew have grit that can wear down your enamel.

Tobacco is grown in soil. The kind in cigarettes are processed to clean them thoroughly, but cigars and chew can still have a little grit in them. Although your enamel is durable, it can be damaged. That grit can scrape against your teeth, wearing down some of your enamel and making your teeth weaker.

Recovering from cuts or oral surgery will take longer.

Tobacco use leads to a weaker immune system. This results in your body being unable to heal itself as quickly as it should. If you end up cutting open your gums through an accident or using dental floss too hard, the cuts don’t heal as fast. That can let harmful bacteria get into your gum tissues. And if you need oral surgery (such as removing a tooth or placing a dental implant), recovering from surgery will take longer.

You have less saliva to wash away food particles stuck in your teeth.

Whenever you eat, tiny particles of food get trapped on your teeth and gums. The harmful bacteria behind cavities and gum disease use these as food. Typically, saliva helps wash these away so the bacteria don’t get out of control. But tobacco dries out your mouth, giving more food to the bacteria.

Your teeth get stained faster.

Just about anything dark that you eat or drink leaves behind tiny stains on your teeth. Over the years, these stains add up to turn a white smile dark and brownish. But using tobacco makes this happen much faster. That’s because the smoke or chew leaves behind their own stains, which is why people who use tobacco regularly often have a brownish smile.

How To Protect Your Smile From Tobacco

Stop using tobacco (or at least reduce your use).

This is the most obvious way to help is to stop using tobacco, but it deserves a mention because it’s also the most powerful way. You know you need to quit for many reasons, but these include protecting your teeth and gums. Quitting is hard, but even reducing how often you use tobacco can help.

Brush and floss like you’re supposed to.

Taking regular care of your teeth and gums is essential to help protect your teeth from tobacco use. That means brushing with a fluoride toothpaste twice each day and flossing once at night.

Visit our Birmingham, AL dental office every six months.

Brushing and flossing at home is very important, but it cannot take the place of visiting our Birmingham dentist every six weeks. That’s because Dr. Perrigo and our whole team have the training and technology needed to professionally clean and protect your smile.

Call us TODAY at 205-545-8007 or use our online form to schedule your next dental exam. As with many health issues, early detection is the key to staying healthy. Dr. Perrigo can look for signs of oral cancer as well as any damage that tobacco is causing to your teeth and gums. Then he can recommend the right treatments to give you a healthy smile.