80% of oral cancer diagnoses are to those who smoke or chew tobacco. Early symptoms include odd white patches in the mouth, pain or mouth sores that persist, swelling, numbness, trouble chewing and swallowing, and a sensation of having something stuck in the throat. A key figure in catching oral cancer early is the dentist!
Smoking doubles the risk of developing gum disease and it also makes it harder to treat it. Leaving gum disease untreated paves the way for damage to the tissue, atrophy of the jaw bone, and even tooth loss.
What about vaping and e-cigarettes? They aren’t the healthy smoking alternative they’ve been painted as. The vapor contains ultra-fine toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and nicotine (which reduces blood flow, compromising gum tissue health, making gum recession and tissue death more likely). Tobacco also reduces saliva production, leading to dry mouth and the variety of dental issues associated with it, and it can trigger bruxism.
Heavy longtime smokers might believe they’ve already done so much damage to their health that there’s no point in quitting, but quitting will still improve health outlooks. It’s worth it, and it’s never too late to begin!