Smoking is one of the most dangerous habits you can have for your oral and overall health. Although many people have gotten the message and have quit, there are many people who are still daily smokers. But there are also people who occasionally smoke a cigarette or two, what are known as “social smokers.” These people think that, because they’re not smoking all the time, they’re not at the same risk for health harms.
Now a new study shows that’s not true. Even people who occasionally smoke cigarettes experience the potential for serious health harms–which may include serious oral health problems.
Symptoms Indicate Elevated Heart Risks
This study is based on data collected from Ohio State University’s Million Hearts Program. People were asked to identify themselves as smokers, nonsmokers, or social smokers. Survey participants also had some basic health measurements taken, including blood pressure and total cholesterol.
The authors found that the risk level for these two measurements was as great for social smokers as for every day smokers: 75% of both groups had high blood pressure, and 54% of both groups had elevated cholesterol. These two symptoms are serious warning signs for heart disease, although this study didn’t show that the actual risk for heart disease is just as high with social smokers as for every day smokers.
People Should Quit Completely
Researchers in this study say that the results show people have to try to quit completely to preserve their health. Partially quitting and only smoking on social occasions may not help people avoid the health risks.
Doctors and dentists need to be aware of this risk. It’s important not just to ask people if they’re smokers, but to ask if they smoke at all. People who are social smokers may not identify themselves as smokers, but will be more likely to give information that they sometimes smoke. Then they can be encouraged to completely quit smoking.
Oral Health Harms Related to Smoking
Smoking isn’t just bad for your heart and lungs, it’s bad for your mouth, too. Smoking causes direct damage to tissues in your mouth. It reduces your body’s ability to supply blood and nutrients to your gums as to other tissues. Smoking dries your mouth out, making it easier for bacteria to flourish there. It also changes the bacteria in your mouth, increasing the proportion of harmful bacteria.
The effects of smoking include a higher risk of:
We don’t know whether social smokers have the same level of risk as every day smokers. But we do know that quitting smoking can protect your oral health. And we suspect that even secondhand smoke increases your risk of gum disease.
If you are looking for a Las Vegas dentist who can help you take important steps to improve your oral health, please call (702) 873-0324 today for an appointment with Dr. James B. Polley.