How Smoking and Dry Mouth Affect Your Oral Health

December 6, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_strohman @ 8:06 pm
Man smoking a cigarette

Smoking is a habit that is harmful for nearly every single part of your entire body. It is the leading preventable cause of early disease and death in the United States. Quitting is very difficult to do, but it provides so many benefits, like preventing gum disease. Smoking tobacco leads to dry mouth which creates the perfect environment for bacterial growth. Continue reading to learn more about dry mouth and what you can do to prevent it.

Why Is Saliva So Important?

Saliva plays a major role in digestion and is crucial for the wellbeing of your entire body. After all, your smile is the gateway to the rest of you. Saliva has numerous purposes, including the following:

  • Keeping your mouth moist and comfortable
  • Allowing you to easily chew, taste, and swallow food
  • Fighting against germs in your mouth
  • Neutralizing acid in the mouth
  • Protecting enamel from tooth decay and gum disease

What Happens When You Don’t Have Enough Saliva?

If you aren’t producing enough saliva, this is called dry mouth. This causes the gums, tongue, and other soft tissues in the mouth to become swollen and uncomfortable. This allows oral bacteria to thrive. This overgrowth of bacteria will eventually cause you to develop bad breath, cavities, and periodontal disease. Here are a few common causes of dry mouth:

  • Smoking tobacco products
  • Dehydration
  • Chemotherapy
  • Salivary duct obstructions
  • Diseases like HIV, diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, and Parkinson’s
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Blood pressure medications

How Do You Increase Saliva Production?

If you are suffering from dry mouth, there are steps you can take to increase your saliva production. Try the following:

  • Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist. Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day and by your bed at night.
  • Chewing on sugar-free gum helps to stimulate saliva flow.
  • Don’t use mouthwash that contains alcohol. This can dry out your mouth even more.
  • Avoid drinking beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine.
  • Moisten your foods with broth, soup, sauce, gravy, or butter.
  • Stay away from dry, salty foods like crackers, bread, and dried fruits.
  • Talk to your doctor, friends, and family about the best way for you to give up smoking for good!

In order to relieve dry mouth, try some of the tips listed above. If the issue persists, see your dentist to discuss possible solutions. Quitting smoking can be difficult, but your body and smile will thank you!

About the Author

Dr. Shelly Strohman is an experienced dentist who has been working in the field for 13 years so far! She earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery from the UMKC School of Dentistry. Currently, she is a member of the American Dental Association, Texas Dental Association, 13th District Dental Society, and Texoma Christian Care Center Board of Directors. If you are struggling with dry mouth, she would be happy to help. For more information or to schedule an appointment at her office in Wichita Falls, visit her website or call (940) 613-0299.

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