We are all taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but smoking tobacco still remains one of the leading causes of death and disease among us. And the worst part—this cause of death is completely preventable!
Cigarettes cause nearly 30% of cancer deaths across the country. “Of the more than 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 250 are known to be harmful, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia. Among those, at least 69 can cause cancer” (National Cancer Institute).
Not only do cigarettes cause cancer, but they damage every organ in the body—from the lungs, to the gums, stomach, liver and bladder. Now more than ever with the rigorous spread of COVID-19, it’s critical for smokers to get the help they need to quit smoking and vaping.
COVID-19 and Smoking
Smoking cigarettes increases your chances of contracting COVID for a few reasons. Smoking requires hand-to-mouth contact, which (as we know) promotes the spread of the virus. Smoking also weakens the immune system, and a healthy immune system is vital to defending the body from COVID.
To combat the virus, our bodies respond with increased lung function to eradicate built-up mucus. Our bodies also work overtime to heal inflammation and improve poor blood circulation resulting from COVID infection.
Smoking and Gum Disease
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, occurs as a result of an infection in the gums. As bacteria builds up beneath the gums, it creates infectious pockets between the tooth root and gum tissue.
Smoking happens to be one of the main causes behind the development and progression of periodontal disease. This is because ingesting the toxins in cigarette smoke weakens the immune system and the body’s ability to fight off infections and diseases. If gum disease is present, even in its early stages, your immune system is working to kill off the bacteria. If you’re smoking on top of gum disease, your gums are at a major disadvantage and are unable to heal properly.
People who smoke have twice the risk of developing gum disease, compared to a nonsmoker (Journal of Dental Research).
Smoking and Tooth Loss
“Male smokers are up to 3.6 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers, whereas female smokers were found to be 2.5 times more likely” (Science Daily).
One of the recognizable symptoms of periodontal disease is bleeding in the gums. Gum bleeding is typically the main indicator that gum disease is present. Smoking can actually conceal gum bleeding, which may lead a person who smokes to believe that they aren’t experiencing symptoms of gum disease.
Because smoking can hide the signs and symptoms of gum disease, gum disease can progress to the severe stages without a person realizing. And unfortunately, periodontal disease is the #1 cause of tooth loss in adults.
During this COVID pandemic, it’s critical that people who smoke take the necessary steps toward kicking this harmful habit. Resources, such as free virtual online smoking-cessation classes, are available to everyone. The Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) in Florida is offering these classes multiple times a week! This offering is a part of the ‘Tobacco Free Florida’ initiative and utilizes “evidence-based curricula that are provided by highly trained tobacco treatment specialists for free to all Floridians who smoke or vape”.
Please spread the word to family and friends to prevent the spread of COVID and to treat one of the leading yet preventable causes of death and disease—smoking.
Still have questions about smoking related to gum disease and tooth loss?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! It’s our goal to provide you with the necessary information that enables you to achieve and maintain optimal gum health.