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Make your Dentist Smile

Jul 24, 2008
Trying to quit smoking can be a challenge for many people but a challenge many people are willing to take for many reasons. Some have already been diagnosed with medical problems such as heart problems or diabetes all because of smoking and try to quit to prevent more. Others simply want to be healthier and avoid potential health problems such as Lung Caner and COPD. There is always a reason to quit, and BBC News just added one more, dental problems.

Across Europe, dentists conducted a research study to find out why so many patients were rejecting dental devices and procedures. They discovered smoking was the common link. BBC News reported the findings of the study, not only does smoking cause bad breath and teeth discoloration, but many other dental problems such as oral cancer, receding gums which leave the roots exposed, the diminished ability of taste buds and finally the rejection of dental devices and procedures.

Implants work in a similar way to dentures. They are used in people who have lost individual teeth, create a bridge and to create support and a better fit for older dentures. Implants work by functioning as the "root" of the tooth because they are made from titanium and are implanted in the jaw. They are coated with a substance called hydroxyapatite which acts as the same chemical makeup of our own bones which makes implants more effective than dentures.

A prime candidate for an implant requires good healing and blood flow to insure the gum tissue heals properly. Occasionally, implants reject, but this happens more commonly in smokers. Smoking as well as other diseases such as diabetes, effect how the body heals and how the blood flow, thus resulting in a likely rejection. The BBC News also reported that if a patient stopped smoking before the procedure and for at least eight weeks after, allowing the tissue to heal properly, it would greatly improve their odds for an effective implant.

Implant rejection may not effect all patients, but there are other procedures which are effected by smoking. Something as simple as a filling can be ineffective because of smoking, along with teeth removals, and gum disease. Antibiotics and topical treatments can also become useless because of smoking which can lead to more serious problems before, during and after dental procedures.

The most common dental problem facing tobacco users in the beginning are minor things such as bad breath and teeth discoloration. However these mild problems can turn into more serious problems quickly. According to a study done by the American Dental Association, 32% of smokers needed to have a filling replaced, 10.1% needed a tooth extraction and 22.5% needed a major dental cleaning because of periodontal disease (impaired blood flow). Smoking can also be a factor in the loss of jaw bone, gum disease leading to tooth loss, and increased plaque and tartar build up. According to WebMD, 90% of patients with oral cancer use tobacco products and of those 90%, 37% who keep using tobacco products after having one cancerous lesion removed will develop another compared to 6% of those who quit smoking.

Quitting is the ideal way to combat these conditions. Another study done by the American Dental Association, 97.5% of patients who quite using tobacco, showed an almost complete reduction of mouth lesions (leukoplakia potentially cancerous mouth lesions) in just six weeks of quitting.

There are many ways available to quit smoking. Some patients choose to try prescription treatments such as Zyban or Wellbutrin which can help curb cravings. Others try over the counter treatments such as the nicotine patch or gum. Other nontraditional treatments include hypnosis, acupuncture and herbal remedies. Those who are interesting in quitting should speak with their dentist of physician to develop a plan and find out what works best for the patient. Since each person is different, each individual plan will be different. Some people use a combination of treatments to quit. It is important to remember quitting is never easy but the health risks are just too high to not quit now.
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