Recently, a seventh grader from Crawfordsville, Indiana wrote to the town's newspaper, The Journal Review, pleading for a friend to stop smoking. In her letter, she asks, "Would you really buy a product if it said on the package: will cause heart attacks, stroke, bad breath, cancer and death?" It's a fair question. After all, tobacco products wreak havoc in the mouth, increasing the likelihood of halitosis and periodontal disease.
If you haven't heard of the latter affliction before, buckle up. The condition, also known as periodontitis, is sort of like gingivitis on steroids. People with periodontal disease are more likely to lose teeth, have oral odor or even have heart disease!
Periodontitis occurs when gum disease or some other oral infection spreads down beneath the gums and into the bone bed that your teeth are rooted in. Over time, this serious infection can loosen teeth and cause them to turn yellow or brown.
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) states that using tobacco products increases the risk of periodontal disease substantially. Smoking cigarettes is not the only risky activity, as using cigars, pipe tobacco or chewing tobacco may lead to serious dental problems.
What can tobacco do to your mouth? Besides depositing immediate and lasting bad breath, tobacco smoke or juice can gradually reduce your ability to taste, the organization warns.
In the long run, things get even worse. Tobacco use can lead to receding gums, stained teeth, wrinkled facial skin, mouth sores, oral abscesses, periodontal disease and even oral cancer, the AAP states.
To throw the dangers of tobacco use into high relief: the organization estimates that while 20 percent of non-smokers are toothless by age 65, a whopping 41 percent of tobacco users have nary a pearly-white at that age.
Of course, you don't have to smoke to get periodontal disease. Other substances can wreck your mouth and leave it reeking. Consider a study intriguingly titled "An Unusual Case of Black teeth" and published in the journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology. Scientists described the case of a 40-year-old man who turned his teeth as black as coal by drinking cheap white wine and chewing cayenne. He gave himself periodontitis, to boot.
In fact, by simply letting your oral health regimen fall slack, you can boost your risk of bad breath and serious gum infections. By using specialty breath fresheners and oral care probiotics, you can keep your teeth white and your breath fresh.