14 of every 100 individuals age eighteen and over smoke in the United States, according to a 2017 Center for Disease Control report. This means 14% of America is lighting up!
The Surgeon General has been warning people for decades, emphasizing that smoking is bad for your health. But what makes it bad for you? And in particular, what does smoking do to your teeth?
You’re most likely aware of how smoking affects your lungs, but the effects of smoking begin with your mouth.
What Does Smoking Do to Your Teeth?
Your mouth is the first point of entry in your body. When you light up a cigarette and exhale that first puff, you most likely aren’t thinking about how a cigarette will affect your teeth. Cigarette smoking affects both the appearance and health of your teeth overall.
If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, you are giving up the possibility of maintaining naturally white teeth. It is important to visualize your teeth like a porcelain vase. Essentially, the enamel of your teeth acts just like a porcelain finish, with fine cracks. As you age and use your teeth for several decades, those cracks absorb what you put in your mouth.
When you smoke a cigarette, the nicotine and tar in the cigarette will seep into the cracks and become a fixture there. You cannot brush them away. Stained teeth result from more than just poor brushing habits. You will also experience a build-up of plaque and tartar on your teeth because of the nicotine and tar in the cigarette.
If you’re a chronic smoker, you will require teeth whitening to maintain a pearly white smile.
How Does Smoking Contribute to Tooth Loss?
There are several reasons you have a decreased chance of preserving your original teeth if you’re a chronic smoker.
Delayed Healing Process
Smoking tobacco reduces the oxygen in your bloodstream. It is important to remember that oxygen is necessary for healing processes in your body. When you experience oral disease or dental conditions that require surgical procedures (tooth extractions, dental implants, root canals, etc), this means a chronic smoker will heal more slowly and face a longer recovery time. Smokers are also at a higher risk of infection, because your gums may not be able to heal properly.
Increased Chance of Gum Disease
Gum disease is one of the most common reasons for tooth loss in adults, and smoking is a major contributing factor. Gum disease progresses faster in chronic smokers. As a result, smokers typically not only lose their teeth, but dental implant procedures are less successful with them than with a non-smoker.
Progression of Gum Disease
Whether you smoke or not, it is important to remember that gum disease begins with bacterial growth in your mouth. Some people are genetically more susceptible to gum disease, but smoking will increase your chances because you’re introducing bacteria regularly with a cigarette. As you smoke, plaque begins to build up and bacteria increases. Your gums become inflamed, and you may notice more blood on your toothbrush or in your saliva when you brush your teeth.
This is the start of gingivitis, a common gum disease. When you don’t receive proper treatment for your gingivitis, the gum disease then progresses to periodontitis. With periodontitis, the inner layer of the gum and bone begin to separate from the teeth. Pockets then form between the teeth and the gum. Bacteria begins to collect in those pockets, along with debris, and infection sets in. For a non-smoker, the immune system kicks in full strength at this time to fight the infection. However, a smoker has a compromised immune system, allowing the infection to spread and grow beneath the gum line.
Everything that holds your teeth in place, from the bone to the connective tissue, suffers at this point. The bacteria produce toxins that break down your bone and connective tissue. You may begin to notice loose teeth at this stage, as the bone and tissue are gradually destroyed. Your teeth have no anchor to keep them in place, and they often begin to fall out.
Cigarettes are the “smoking gun” of tooth loss. Teeth do not decay because of cigarettes, but everything that holds the teeth to your jaw does. Your body cannot fight off the infections that lead to this erosion because of its compromised immunity.
Signs of Gum Disease
If you’re a chronic smoker, you should understand the signs of gum disease.
- Gums pull away from teeth
- Excessive bleeding during teeth brushing
- Red and swollen gums
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Painful chewing
It is important to keep an eye out for any of these symptoms and visit your dentist right away if they develop.
What If You Lose Your Teeth?
At this point, you may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? I don’t like my teeth that much, and I can always get implants if I lose a tooth.”
This would be true if you were a non-smoker. However, it is important to remember that dental implants require a healthy jawbone. If you’re losing your teeth because of eroding bone and tissue, you will not have a stable anchor for dental implants.
Furthermore, you will have a regularly changing jaw. This means you can look to obtain dentures, but you will require several regular fittings as your jaw shrinks.
What If You Can’t Quit Smoking?
Smoking affects your teeth and your mouth. So why not just quit? If you have attempted to quit smoking multiple times and not succeeded, then look at the next best option. A commitment to reducing your quantity of daily smoking will dramatically improve your oral health and help save your teeth.
It is also important to plan on visiting your dentist regularly. They can help you find ways to fight gum disease that leads to tooth loss.
Drop the Smoke, Save Your Teeth
So, what does smoking do to your teeth? While smoking certainly has an adverse effect directly on your teeth, the most detrimental impact occurs to the oral structures (gums and jawbone) that hold your teeth in place.
If you desire to maintain your own teeth for a lifetime, stop lighting up! Contact our Colorado Springs practice if you’re suffering from gum disease or any other oral health related issues.
Most people are surprised to learn that the average toothbrush contains over 700 kinds of bacteria. Fungi, viruses, and tiny microorganisms sit on the bristles of toothbrushes around the world, establishing a foundation for diseases to form.
If the thought of bacteria dwelling on the toothbrush you routinely place in your mouth doesn’t peak your curiosity about changing your oral hygiene habits, think about the poor physical condition of your toothbrush. Over time, the bristles on your brush become fanned out and spread apart.
Keeping the threat of oral bacteria and the physical appearance of your toothbrush in mind, the important question is how often should you change your toothbrush?
Where Are the Bacteria on Your Toothbrush Coming From?
The number one source of bacteria on your toothbrush is your mouth. You routinely use your brush to clean the plaque, food, and odor-causing germs from your mouth. Considering the fact that most people don’t use soap or bleach on their brush after using it (which we definitely don’t recommend), there are certainly going to be some bacteria present on your toothbrush.
It’s also important to consider where you store your toothbrush. Many people frequently store their toothbrush too close to the sink, or even the toilet. Brushes placed too close to either of these bathroom fixtures are at risk of attracting some extra unwanted microorganisms.
Lastly, it is important to remember that how you store your toothbrush matters. Placing your brush in unwashed containers and holders can also facilitate the growth of bacteria.
When Should You Change Your Toothbrush?
Despite the presence of bacteria on toothbrushes, the solution here is not to brush your teeth less! That would certainly lead to a variety of other harmful dental conditions. The solution is to regularly replace your toothbrush.
Between the American Dental Association (ADA) and many licensed dental professionals, it is recommended you change your toothbrush every three to four months. Within this time frame, the bristles usually become severely worn and are much less effective. It should be noted that most dental professionals have a general rule that trumps this timeline. If you have recently been sick with an infection or virus, dental providers recommend you change your toothbrush right away.
Children may actually require a toothbrush replacement sooner than adults. Kids usually brush their teeth more rigorously than their grown counterparts, so the wear and tear on their brushes may be more evident before the three month mark.
If you happen to be wondering if it matters whether a toothbrush is manual or electric, the answer is no. Bristles are bristles, and it is strongly suggested you change your brush (or toothbrush head) every three to four months.
Caring for Your Toothbrush
While the average person doesn’t feel a toothbrush requires special care and attention, dental professionals are quick to point out that it is important to follow some important steps:
For starters, after you use your toothbrush it’s important you rinse it off thoroughly with tap water. Rinsing helps wash away any remaining toothpaste, food, and saliva that may still be present on your brush.
Store in a Dry Place
After you’ve finished rinsing your toothbrush with tap water, it’s imperative to store it in a vertical position to air dry the brush. The key word here is “air dry”. It’s important to make sure your toothbrush is completely dry every time you use it.
If you’re accustomed to placing your toothbrush in a closed container after use, it’s time you break that habit. This helps prevent the bacteria buildup that is present in a storage container like that. In fact, it’s best not to even keep your toothbrush in a closed container for traveling purposes. Instead, think about purchasing disposable brushes when traveling away from home.
Be Careful Where You Keep It
As previously mentioned, many bacteria access your toothbrush based on its proximity to the toilet or sink. Splashing water from either one of those sources can result in unwanted germs transferring onto your brush. Therefore, you should find an appropriate place to store your brush where it can remain away from this type of water.
Additionally, it’s best not to store your toothbrush in a place where it’s consistently touching the brushes of your family members. You certainly don’t want additional bacteria from your family members adding to your own. In fact, you should always remember that your toothbrush is yours alone. It’s never a smart idea to share a toothbrush with another person.
Keep a Spare or Two
As you surf the internet or make trips to the store, it’s wise to purchase some extra toothbrushes or toothbrush heads. It’s important to have these extra brushes around the house during those times when you are faced with unexpected challenges (I.e. you get sick, you drop your brush in the toilet, or your young kids get a hold of your brush).
It’s been said that when people know better, they tend to do better. Now that you know you should be changing your toothbrush every three to four months, you shouldn’t rely on your next dental appointment to make an upgrade. Since you’re aware of the importance of keeping your brush in a dry and secure place, you’ll be careful not to lay your brush down an inch away from the bathroom sink.
If you have additional questions about when you should change your toothbrush or oral hygiene routine, be sure to contact our Colorado Springs dental office!
Value your pearly whites? Enjoy the appearance of your smile? Then, it is in your best interest to stop drinking soda.
Soda is a delicious treat. However, many people drink soda on a consistent basis. Most individuals don’t just stop with one! Some people may drink soda throughout the day to alleviate stress or to stay more alert. Drinking soda in this manner is highly likely to damage your teeth.
Dental hygiene involves much more than just desiring a pearly white smile. Dental hygiene also involves the food you eat which can, in turn, affect your overall health. For example, poor dental hygiene is highly correlated with heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
So, why does soda taste so good? For starters, the sugar content in soda activates the reward center of the brain. This can explain why we reach for other sugary substances, like donuts instead of broccoli, as a treat. The carbonation in soda is also appealing to many people. The carbonation provides a sense of refreshment you can’t receive from uncarbonated drinks.
However, you may want to learn more about why drinking is so bad for your teeth and reconsider your soda drinking habit!
Protecting Your Pearly Whites
Habits can be difficult to break, but following the same destructive routine can be even more painful. This is the case when we drink soda on a regular basis. We may feel like drinking soda is an important part of our routine, but it’s certainly damaging our health in the long run.
For soda lovers, this news can be disheartening. Of course, most of us realize that water or tea is better for our overall health. However, we may not consider the effects soda can have on our dental hygiene.
Sorry, diet soda drinkers! You’re at risk as well. Diet soda may appear like the better choice for your waistline, but it still adversely affects your dental hygiene.
Explore the following reasons why you should stop drinking soda and learn how to drop soda for good:
Reasons to Stop Drinking Soda
Regular soda contains two acidic producing substances. The first is sugar and the second is carbonation.
Sugar in your mouth promotes the growth of bacteria. Bacteria feed off this sugar and can produce acid, which affects your teeth’s enamel. As this enamel wears down, your teeth become more susceptible to tooth decay, cavities, and other dental problems.
The carbonation in soda is also acidic. So, when you drink soda your teeth are vulnerable to two separate acid attacks. These so called “acid attacks” can last for up to 20 minutes after you drink a soda.
Although diet sodas don’t contain regular sugar, they still contain acid from the carbonation. With this in mind, it is smart to consider eliminating diet soda consumption to prevent tooth enamel erosion.
Tips for Curbing Your Soda Intake
There are many healthy ways you can reduce or eliminate your soda drinking.
For starters, try reducing your intake of soda by increasing the amount of water you drink. It is important to set a daily water consumption goal and stick to it. You may notice that by setting a water intake goal, your consumption of soda naturally begins to slow down.
Another good idea is trying to only drink soda at mealtimes. This is much healthier for your teeth because the food helps reduce the effects of the acid by maintaining your mouth’s pH levels.
It may seem daunting to eliminate the addictive soda drinking habit immediately. It is a good idea to start with small goals and then add in more aggressive goals when you’re ready. For example, a soda drinker may start with a goal of only consuming two sodas per day. When you’ve attained this goal on a consistent basis, then consider changing your goal to one soda per day. Eventually, you can eliminate your soda drinking habit completely.
There are also methods to prevent tooth damage while continuing to drink soda. One important way is to rinse your mouth out with water after drinking a soda. Another good idea is drinking soda through a straw to reduce the amount of contact the soda has with your teeth.
It’s important to not brush your teeth for at least 30-60 minutes after drinking a soda, as this can damage the teeth even further when they’re in a vulnerable state after an acid attack.
Choosing Healthier Options to Stop Drinking Soda
If you’re convinced that you should stop drinking soda, then you may be ready to take action. As we all know, however, replacing an addictive habit can be a challenging task.
To start, you’ll need to cultivate an encouraging support system. It is a good idea to explain to your friends and family that you are trying to stop drinking soda. Ask them to support you in any way they can and to encourage you to follow through with your commitment. It is important to ask them not to offer you soda, so there are less temptations. You can also consider hiring a health coach to help hold you accountable for attaining your goal. A health coach can also offer individualized suggestions for replacing your soda drinking habit.
It is wise to schedule an appointment with your dentist, so you have an idea of the status of your oral health. You may want to ask your dentist how any dental issues from drinking soda can be repaired. Your dental provider might suggest a new toothpaste or dental hygiene routine to make sure your oral health is back on track. Your dentist will also be able to clean your teeth and repair any damage.
Need help improving your dental health? Contact us today to learn more about oral hygiene and to schedule a dental appointment at our Colorado Springs office.
Basic on statistics, the United States is clearly a gum-chewing nation. A startling 173.41 million people in the US chew gum.
Chewing gum is valuable to your body and mind. It can also help keep your teeth clean!a
Chewing gum is an enjoyable pastime for many, as you end up drifting into a world of endless thought. With the emergence of sugarless gum, some traditional concerns about the impact of this activity on your oral health have been alleviated. In fact, you can gain significant oral benefits by chewing sugarless gum.
The Oral Benefits of Chewing Gum
Many people use gum to freshen their breath. However, did you know that chewing gum helps clean your teeth? The process of how gum cleans your teeth is an interesting one.
1. Chewing Can Increase Saliva Flow
Have you ever experienced a dry mouth for an extended period of time? You may struggle speaking, eating, or even swallowing. You may also experience bad breath due to the extent of dryness.
A dry mouth may be the result of a number of issues, such as being under medication or struggling with infections (like flu and colds). It may surprise many that doctors recommend chewing gum as a possible solution to this problem. Chewing can increase the amount of saliva flow in your mouth. When chewing, there is a compression of the salivary glands, which helps increase saliva production. The next time you struggle with a dry mouth, chewing may be the solution to your predicament. The saliva will help ensure your mouth remains moist and comfortable.
2. Chewing Can Prevent the Decay of Teeth
Dealing with a cavity is one of the least enjoyable situations you may encounter. The pain can be extreme and the filling or extraction process causes obvious discomfort.
The decay may be a result of bacteria that align around the mouth. Chewing gum that cleans your teeth is a great way to deal with this concern. When you chew, your mouth produces a substantial amount of saliva. The saliva contains a balance of calcium and other nutrients, such as fluoride. These nutrients can lead to significant benefits, including the elimination of toxic elements on the lining of the teeth. This idea of chewing gum ultimately assists in dealing with tooth decay.
Considering the high levels of fluoride found in saliva, chewing gum also ensures that your teeth remain strong. This means that if your favorite pastime is chewing gum, you may have fewer concerns associated with decaying teeth.
3. Gum That Cleans Teeth Can Act as Whitener
Research indicates that the most likely thing you may notice in a person is their smile. Chewing gum can be beneficial if you are looking to whiten your teeth. While this is not a substitution for a regular brushing routine, it can be useful. If you are a smoker or drink coffee often, you may find chewing gum especially valuable.
Chewing gum stimulates salivary flow, contributing to the process of teeth whitening. The gums introduce a coat over your teeth, helping to prevent the formation of stains in your mouth.
4. Helps with Bad Breath
The unfortunate thing about bad breath is that it tends to affect everyone else, yet you often have no idea of the odor within your mouth. Chewing gum can help you overcome this embarrassing concern.
Most people have had a one-on-one conversation with a person with unpleasant breath. The experience is not enjoyable, especially if that person is close. The reality is that bad breath can be irritating. However, the good news is that chewing gum can be extremely helpful when dealing with the embarrassment that follows this condition.
If you enjoy chewing gum, then may be doing the people around you a big favor without even knowing it!
5. Chewing Gum Improves Oral Health
Have you ever had an infection or wound inside your mouth? Well, it may cause severe irritation to the gums or your tongue.
The saliva in your mouth has the ability to keep the process of self-cleaning ongoing. This means that the cell-derived tissues in the saliva can conduct a recurrent treatment process for the wounds. This ultimately leads to self-healing. Chewing gum releases enough saliva to ensure a recurrent analgesic opiorphin, assisting in the process of healing such wounds.
Is chewing gum good for your teeth? — it’s affirmative. You may be able to witness all the positive effects of this habit on your teeth. The wound treating ability in chewing gum means that this activity has certain positive medicinal beneficial implications to you. The combination of both analgesic opiorphin, fluoride, and calcium in your saliva is valuable with boosting your oral health.
Chewing Gum That Cleans Teeth Can Improve Your Oral Health
If you chew gum that cleanses your teeth, you can improve your oral health and avoid recurrent visits to the dentist. Chewing gum is not only a fun pastime, but also a source of numerous health benefits for you. People looking for an enjoyable way to clean or protect your teeth from tooth decay and cavities should consider chewing sugarless gum more often. Chewing gum will also assist in dealing with bad breath or a dry mouth. The ability to secrete saliva when you chew guarantees these critical oral health benefits.
Contact us with any questions on improving your oral health or to schedule a consultation!
Did you know that babies’ teeth start to develop before they’re even born? However, the baby teeth are not visible until they’re at least 6 months old. As the infant matures, more teeth will develop until the child has a full set of baby teeth (typically around the age of 3).
Within a few years, these baby teeth will begin to fall out in order to make room for adult teeth!
Perhaps you have a little one or you are interested in learning more about pediatric dentistry? We’ll be reviewing some dental health facts for kids below.
Pediatric Dentistry: 8 Children Dental Facts That You Should Know About
Here are some important things to keep in mind regarding your child’s dental health.
1. Tooth Decay is the Most Common Childhood Disease
Tooth decay is the most prevalent harmful dental condition among children. When untreated, tooth decay will destroy a child’s teeth and have a lasting impact on their overall health.
According to the CDC, more than 42% of children between ages 2 to 11 will have a cavity. Even more startling, cavities are 5 times more common than childhood asthma and 20 times more common than diabetes.
2. Cavities are Preventable
Cavities might be common, but that certainly doesn’t mean you can’t prevent them.
In particular, fluoride is capable of preventing and reversing early stages of tooth decay. How does it work? Once ingested, fluoride plays a role in strengthening developing teeth. The fluoride is taken to the developing teeth, where it helps reinforce the enamel (the protective layer on the teeth). Reinforced enamel is much more resistant to tooth decay. It is important to keep in mind, however, that fluoride is not capable of repairing cavities.
3. Candy is Not the Only Cause of Poor Dental Health
There is no doubt that eating candy can certainly lead to cavities. However, it’s not the only thing that’s responsible. Looking at the big picture, many different types of food can cause tooth decay. In particular, starchy snacks such as cookies, crackers, or bread, can increase a child’s likelihood of developing cavities. This should not be too surprising, After all, tooth decay is caused by acid-producing bacteria that consume carbohydrates. In other words, cavities result from microorganisms that feast on the sugars from starchy foods. After eating these foods, it’s important to brush your child’s teeth.
4. Children Should Go to the Dentist by the Time They’re One Year Old
Most children don’t see a dentist until they are over 2 years old! This is much later than recommended by dental professionals. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, you should bring your child in for a dental appointment by the time they are one year old.
It is important to remember that baby teeth are crucial for several reasons. Not only do they help children chew, which is necessary for good nutrition, but baby teeth also play a significant role with speech development. You should not forget that baby teeth help save space for permanent teeth, so taking care of them should be a top priority!
5. It’s Important to Care for Your Baby’s Teeth from the Start
Proper dental care is important from the start—even before your child has any teeth. You should use an infant toothbrush or soft cloth to wipe your baby’s gums twice a day before their teeth erupt. This will keep their gums free of bacteria and prepare them for toothbrushing.
Once the baby teeth develop and become visible, you’ll want to brush them regularly with a fluoride toothpaste. Ideally, you want to brush them twice a day—in the morning and at night.
6. It’s Possible for a Child to “Catch” Cavities From Their Mother
Believe it or not, a child can actually “catch” cavities from their mother. In fact, 71% of tooth decay cases are caused by the transmission of bacteria from a mother to her infant. The primary culprit is Streptococcus mutans, a strain of bacteria that is passed through the transfer of saliva. This means that blowing on food, sharing utensils, and even kissing, can indirectly cause cavities.
With this in mind, it’s important for mothers to maintain proper dental hygiene. The better their oral care, the smaller the chance of their baby having dental problems.
7. Cavities Can Affect a Child’s Self-Esteem and Academic Performance
Cavities not only affect a child’s oral health, but they can also have an impact on their self-esteem. It’s not uncommon for children with dental issues to fall victim to bullying. Many of these children often find themselves embarrassed to smile in front of their friends and reluctant to participate in social activities. Statistics show that tooth decay can also affect a child’s academic performance. In the United States, it’s estimated that nearly 51 million school hours are lost every year due to illnesses relating to dental problems!
8. Sports Can Cause Dental Injuries
Children who participate in sports generally have a higher risk of dental injuries. Cracked teeth and fractured roots are two most common sports related dental injuries. Recent studies have shown that basketball has the highest injury rate due to collisions with other players and hand contact. Due to the frequent nature of these dental injuries, it’s vital that your little athlete wears proper sports gear during their activities.
Proper Dental Care Goes a Long Way
As you can see, there are several things to keep in mind when it comes to pediatric dentistry. Above all, it’s important to remember that it’s never too early to begin proper dental care. Cavities are the most common disease in children!
Looking for a dentist that provides pediatric dental services in the Colorado Springs area? Feel free to contact us to make an appointment!