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Are You a Smoker With Dry Mouth? Minimize the Impact With These Tips

July 7, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — drhackbarth @ 5:37 pm

If someone told you that your body naturally produces a substance that protects your mouth from bacteria, cavities and bad breath, could you guess what it is? The answer is probably simpler than you might think: saliva! Believe it or not, saliva is incredibly important for your oral health. Unfortunately, there are lifestyle choices that reduce the flow of saliva, including smoking. And while there are countless overall benefits to quitting, most people don’t know that their dental health is one of them. If you’re a smoker and want to protect your teeth and gums from the ill effects of dry mouth, keep reading to learn more! 

The Impact of Smoking On Saliva Production and Your Oral Health

Research has shown time and time again that smokers produce less saliva and have poorer oral health than non-smokers. 

Saliva not only prevents the discomfort of dry mouth but also protects your teeth and gums in two important ways. First, it washes away food debris, plaque and bacteria that would otherwise lead to cavities, bad breath and gum disease, which is the leading cause of tooth loss.  People with dry mouth not only accumulate more plaque on their teeth, but it’s also stickier and harder to remove. 

In addition, the bacteria that make up a large portion of plaque produce acids that attack the enamel, eventually leading to tooth decay. Saliva naturally counteracts or buffers these acids before they can harm the teeth.

How Can You Protect Your Smile From Smoking and Dry Mouth?

In addition to damaging your teeth and gums, smoking puts your overall health at risk as well, so quitting is always encouraged. Today, there are many smoking cessation aids that can be very helpful, so don’t hesitate to talk to your healthcare professional for recommendations. 

In the meantime, you can use the following tips to mitigate the effects of smoking and dry mouth on your smile: 

  • See a dentist every six months – Regular checkups and cleanings will ensure that cavities are found when they’re small and easier to treat. You’ll also be annually screened for gum disease so it can be addressed early on when treatment is more effective. 
  • Practice good oral hygiene at home – Brush at least twice a day and floss once. Hygiene aids such as interdental brushes and floss picks as well as electric toothbrushes and oral irrigators can be wonderful additions to your routine.
  • Chew sugar-free gum – Chewing sugar-free gum stimulates salivary flow to counteract dry mouth. 
  • Stay hydrated – Drinking plain water throughout the day will keep your mouth moist.  
  • Use extra topical fluoride – Fluoride strengthens your enamel to prevent cavities. You can either use fluoridated mouthwash before bed each night or get a prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste from your dentist.  
  • Use dry mouth products – These over-the-counter products mimic saliva and include toothpaste, mouthwash, mints and more. 

By following these simple guidelines, you’ll prevent a lot of the problems associated with dry mouth and keep your smile healthier and happier overall. 

About the Author 

Dr. Lauren Houliston is a family dentist who is dedicated to helping her patients achieve great oral health. In addition to providing exceptional dentistry, she always talks with her patients about the impact of their everyday habits, including smoking, to help them maintain a healthier smile. If you have any questions about smoking, dry mouth or dental health in general, she can be reached via her website or at (409) 935-2111. 

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