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How Smoking Leads to Tooth Loss

By Bruce Wilderman on April 14, 2016

A crown supported by a dental implantA leading dentist in the Philadelphia area, Dr. Bruce Wilderman believes in total wellness and a holistic approach to dental care. This is why his advanced restorative dentistry treatments often have a cosmetic element as well as an element of general health treatment as well. A patient's general health can have a major impact on his or her dental health and vice versa.

We all know that smoking can lead to a number of general health problems, such as an increased risk of lung disease, heart disease, hypertension, and certain cancers. As if that is not reason enough to quit, smoking can also lead to tooth loss and other major dental health problems.

What Studies Say About Smoking and Tooth Loss

It's been estimated that people who smoke are twice as likely to lose their teeth than people who do not smoke. The Academy of General Dentistry estimates that men who smoke are likely to lose 2 to 3 teeth after 10 years of heavy smoking (i.e., a pack a day); women who smoke heavily are likely to lose 1 to 2 teeth under the same conditions.

Dental Problems Caused by Smoking and Tobacco Products

Gum disease is one of the primary reasons for tooth loss. Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease refers to the bacterial infection of the gums. There are three stages of gum disease:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Advanced periodontitis

In the earliest stage of gum disease, the most likely symptoms are bleeding gums, discolored gums, swollen gums, and bad breath.

Left untreated, gum disease can result in gum recession, which means more of a tooth's root structure is exposed, making a person more likely to experience tooth decay below the gumline. Teeth can also become loose and shift in place when gum disease is untreated. Should advanced periodontitis set in, it's likely that a patient may lose a tooth as a result of decay or poor periodontal health.

Treatment Options for Missing Teeth

If you are missing a tooth or a few teeth, the use of a dental bridge is a common solution. The bridge fills the gap left behind by the missing teeth, clasping around the teeth adjacent to the gap for support. For major tooth loss, the use of a partial denture or full denture is common. Dentures are held in place by bracing around the dental ridge. Addition stability for a denture can be achieved by using dental adhesives.

Some patients may be good candidates for dental implants, which are artificial tooth roots that are surgically anchored into the jawbone and gum tissue. The dental implants can be used to support individual crowns, a bridge, or a denture.

Dentists will always work to prevent tooth loss whenever possible. In cases of serious gum disease, that often means the use of antiseptic rinses and antibiotics. The gumline can be rebuilt after recession has occurred thanks to soft tissue augmentation techniques.

Contact Dr. Bruce Wilderman

For more information about treatments for missing teeth and how to prevent tooth loss, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. Dr. Bruce Wilderman and his team look forward to your visit and helping you achieve the best possible dental health.

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