Dr. Thomas G. Zarger believes in the fundamentals of general dentistry, with a focus on making smiles beautiful and healthy. This emphasis on the basics is what makes him one of the leading dentists in the Knoxville area, able to address tooth decay, tooth loss, and everything in between.
On the note of tooth loss, we've noticed a common causes that some of our patients do not expect: smoking. It's true. Those cigarettes and other tobacco products do more than just stain your smile.
We all know that smoking carries many dangers to your general health and wellness. This includes issues an increased risk of lung disease, increased risk of cancer, hypertension, stroke, and so forth.
In addition to causing all of the above health problems, smoking is also linked to tooth loss. Studies have found that smokers are twice as likely to lose a tooth or multiple teeth than non-smokers. The risks are even higher for heavy smokers.
The biggest dental health issue that smokers face is an increased risk of infection, which means a greater risk of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease refers to the infection of the gum tissue caused by the oral bacteria that naturally occurs in the mouth. This is the same bacteria that causes tooth decay.
There are three stages of periodontal disease:
Serious gum disease leads to major problems with the gums. One of these problems is gum recession, which means the loss of gum tissue along the gumline. This exposes more of a tooth's root structure. In the process, this means patients are more likely to experience tooth decay below the gumline. This increases the risk of weak teeth that could break from normal wear and tear as well as root canal infection, which is the bacterial infection of the soft tissue inside of a tooth.
Another major problem linked to gum recession is loose teeth. With less gum tissue and inflamed gum tissue that's weakened, a tooth can shift out of place. Over time, a tooth is more likely to fall out because it is not held securely any longer.
When missing a tooth or multiple teeth, the most common treatments are dental appliances such as dental bridges or dentures. The extent of a person's tooth loss will define the ideal treatment.
Some patients will be eligible for dental implants, which are artificial tooth roots that are surgically embedded into the jawbone and gum tissue. These artificial tooth roots are anchored down and able to support individual crowns, a bridge, or a denture. Patients will need to have sufficient jawbone density and periodontal health to get dental implants placed.
Fundamentally, it's important that patients get the help they need to quit smoking. This will ensure goo overall wellness in the long run. If you need help quitting smoking, be sure to speak with your general practitioner. He or she will be able to direct you toward resources that can make kicking the habit for good much easier.
For more information about smoking and tooth loss, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. Dr. Thomas G. Zarger and his entire team look forward to your visit and helping you achieve the healthiest smile possible.