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Gum Disease and Pipe Smoking Dilemma

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BriarBeagle

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So...I've received a bit of bad news and I'm looking for some feedback from the members of this forum if anyone has any first hand experience to offer.

For years I have been living with declining gum disease, which had already forced the extraction of two upper molars.  Yesterday I scheduled an emergency appointment with my dentist, as I have noticed some discomfort in my gums over the past week that finally escalated to a point that I knew it was time to get a professional opinion.  My dentist informed me that I have an abscess in the gum, with significant bone loss on another one of the upper molars.  He stated that I will need to have it extracted after a brief course of antibiotics has handled the infection.  With this news, he presented me with a few options, both of which involve two sessions or oral surgery and bone grafting, followed by either a permanent implant of a new fake molar, or a prosthetic (such as a denture).  I will need one or the other as I will no longer have any molars on the top left side with which to chew my food.  

In addition to this news, he also suggested that I give up the pipe.  When I asked "for how long?",he replied with "probably forever".  This is the most depressing of all the news, as the pipe smoking lifestyle, pipe collecting, and my involvement in the pipe smoking community has been a really bright spot in my life - One which I do not wish to give up.  It is one of my few joys in life.  This is all going to be hugely expensive, and I am already planning to sell off about half of my pipe collection to fund my upcoming medical expenses.  I'm also going to be getting a second opinion before I proceed regardless.

Now a few questions:  Has anyone else (or someone close to you) had a similar experience with gum disease and having teeth extracted?  Is it possible to smoke (or even limit my smoking) after the bone grafting and implant surgeries? Any thoughts? suggestions?

I will do whatever I have to do to preserve my health, but if I could still participate in a pipe every now and again it would be comforting to know.  

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent.  I'm trying not to jump to any conclusions, but this news is a bit depressing.

Best regards,

Loren
 

Zeno Marx

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I think I'd want to know the consequences of having the occasional smoke. How much is this condition related to your pipe smoking? Maybe I'm wrong here, but since it isn't cancer, would it really be problematic to smoke 1-2/week or whatever? If it was me, I think it would be easy to give it up until I was back to 100%, but then I'd want some medical opinions that weren't 100% anti-smoking. Is there a balance to be found?
Sorry to hear your news.
 

ftrplt

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BB, I live with some bone loss, have for years. One front tooth was pulled; then bridged back in with synthetic "glue!" I have another molar that my dentist & hygienist can't believe I still have (after over 20 years of them wanting to do something about it!!). I just get'em cleaned every three to four months and all is fine!!
Bottom line, smoking doesn't cause bone loss. It "may" cause gum irritation, but not loss. Most, if not all dentists, want you to stop smoking! Mine fusses at me a bit; but she knows it's a lost cause :p
I've had "deep cleanings" to avert more bone loss. They aided a bit, but at 72 I've quit doing them. To much hassle for one tooth!
Which way to go to alleviate your bone loss is a decision for you and your dentist. IMHO, your pipe smoking has little to nothing to do with it. I started having this problem back in the 80's. Never gave up my pipe or cigars!!

Hope all this works out well for you! Good luck, and if you wish to share, let us know how all this ends!! :cheers: FTRPLT
 

peanubutter

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Hope it all works out and you are able to enjoy the pipes. Keep us posted.
 

GeoffC

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I know when healing you should not smoke. It will cause issues and slow the healing process down. I'm not a doctor but I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night. Personally they always say you should stop smoking. After you heal up maybe try and see if aggravates or makes things worse and decide then.
 

Puffy

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Sounds like you have a condition that goes beyond pipe smoking..Probably not caused by your pipes..I think I would want to check it out.
 

Valdus

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Never during the healing, but after, when you feel good, once a week?

Plus, there is a lot to pipes besides smoking, believe it or not. Maybe smoke once a week, then cellar, clean, collect, advice, etc?
 

huffelpuff

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Beagle, to put it bluntly your dentist is full of bovine fecal matter. No two ways about that. Smoking does not cause bone loss period. I seriously doubt that you smoke anywhere near as much a cigarette smoker does. My intake has varied quite a bit over the years. Currently I smoke 10-15 bowls a day and there has been no appreciable gum or bone loss.

I have a full plate upper and almost never wear it. I have little issue with eating regardless of what I eat. The caveat there is things that are sharp like corn chips or some cereals.
My dentist ripped a 9mm hole in the roof of my mouth through to my sinuses. I had multiple surgeries to try and repair the damage. None of them worked. It took a good 2 & 1/2 years for the hole to grow shut on its own. I didn't smoke at all during the recovery after any of the surgeries. If you really need a nicotine fix during your recovery I suggest nasal snuff. It's not a bad way to deal with cravings. If you choose to give up pipe smoking for good you may find continuing to collect pipes a pleasant past time. There are quite a few people out there that gave up smoking but continue to collect. Whatever you choose brother we will be here for you.

Jim
 

Valdus

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Point/ counter-point, love it. Do some homework and make a decision. I mean every doctor in the nine worlds is going to tell you to quit. Then they go back home, light up, drink, and eat cracklin'!
 

Zeno Marx

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This thread exemplifies how idiosyncratic it all is. On some level, with health, it's always a gamble. One person can do X to excess their whole lives and live to be 90, while someone else does the same X for a single year and not in excess, and they get a disease linked to X. Health is based on generalizations, not specific anecdotes, which is why I try to never let personal stories get me down, nor get me up. The exception proves nothing, and it is dangerous to give them too much weight. Does everyone who exercises daily and eats well live to be 100? No, but most who do live longer and have a healthier time of it. The big gamble.
 

BriarBeagle

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It's hard to know what the root of all my dental problems is, and how much / which of my prior bad behavior(s) has resulted in where I am at at now with my gum disease.  First off, as a kid I never really established great dental hygiene habits, and lord knows I consumed way more than my fair share of sugar and soda pop.  I started smoking cigarettes on a regular basis at age 12, and basically smoked them for another 22 years until I found out I was having a child and my partner didn't want to raise our baby in a smoking household.  My cessation lasted for a few years, but I began smoking cigars with increasing frequency until I was up to about 4-5 sticks/day.  To get off of the cigars, which were becoming so damn expensive, I started smoking a pipe periodically and supplementing with a Vape pen.  Have been smoking pipes steadily (2-6 bowls/day) for the past 4-5 years now.  On top of all of this, I spent a few years on the Meth pipe, and drinking alcoholically since age 15.  Fortunately these last two gems have become distant vices of the past.  Needless to say, I haven't been what one would call a poster child for a healthy lifestyle.  

I'm definitely gonna get a second (and possibly third) opinion from the medical community, as well as the pipe smoking community.  I've got an appointment scheduled with a periodontal specialist next wednesday, so I'm gonna bounce some questions off of him as well.  

I can't imagine quitting for good, but I will likely try and cut way way back.  I am just not ready to quit completely.  Hopefully I will be able to maintain a program of moderation, especially with my addictive nature and history.  

This hobby has been such a source of joy and passion for me, and I don't have any other activities that could replace it in the same way.  

I'll keep y'all posted.

Loren
 

Fr_Tom

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Here is my take on all this. Tobacco and smoking is demonized right now by culture and the medical community. Any doctor/dentist/whatever is going to tell you to give it up forever, or they will lose their union card. It is just the nature of things right now.

When I was a kid, my father (also an Episcopal priest) used to take me with him to the assisted living places and the nursing home. He said it gave the people he was visiting some conversation to have a child in school, etc. I figure it was vocational training on some level, but I digress.

I made a mental note that all the old men smoked either pipes or cigars, and they seemed to have a pretty good life. There was a pool table, and they always seemed to be watching baseball or something on TV. They were pretty happy all considered.

I figure that everything in life has a cost-vs-benefit thing going. Driving to work or climbing a ladder has a risk associated with it. Only you can decide if the benefit is worth the risk for activity a,b, or c.

I had years of dentists stressed about my gums. I finally got some "waterpick" device that goes before the shower head and uses the water pressure to irrigate. I use that every morning. I use some fancypants Sonic something electric toothbrush. The dentist has gotten tired of telling me how great my gums look. Just because he had not mentioned them in a couple of years I asked at the last appt. He said they were looking great and had been for a while.
 

GeoffC

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BriarBeagle":ex8eh7yb said:
It's hard to know what the root of all my dental problems is, and how much / which of my prior bad behavior(s) has resulted in where I am at at now with my gum disease.  First off, as a kid I never really established great dental hygiene habits, and lord knows I consumed way more than my fair share of sugar and soda pop.  I started smoking cigarettes on a regular basis at age 12, and basically smoked them for another 22 years until I found out I was having a child and my partner didn't want to raise our baby in a smoking household.  My cessation lasted for a few years, but I began smoking cigars with increasing frequency until I was up to about 4-5 sticks/day.  To get off of the cigars, which were becoming so damn expensive, I started smoking a pipe periodically and supplementing with a Vape pen.  Have been smoking pipes steadily (2-6 bowls/day) for the past 4-5 years now.  On top of all of this, I spent a few years on the Meth pipe, and drinking alcoholically since age 15.  Fortunately these last two gems have become distant vices of the past.  Needless to say, I haven't been what one would call a poster child for a healthy lifestyle.  

I'm definitely gonna get a second (and possibly third) opinion from the medical community, as well as the pipe smoking community.  I've got an appointment scheduled with a periodontal specialist next wednesday, so I'm gonna bounce some questions off of him as well.  

I can't imagine quitting for good, but I will likely try and cut way way back.  I am just not ready to quit completely.  Hopefully I will be able to maintain a program of moderation, especially with my addictive nature and history.  

This hobby has been such a source of joy and passion for me, and I don't have any other activities that could replace it in the same way.  

I'll keep y'all posted.

Loren
Some folks just have bad teeth. My mother is that way and so is my wife and she brushes her teeth 4 times a day but still has a pile of dental issues. It's all genetics IMHO. I do an annual 7 year check up with the dentist and have no issues.
 

Blackhorse

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Regardless of the smoking connection...if there is enough bone loss that some kind of tooth replacement is needed...your dentist should be trusted with that diagnosis & related treatment information I should think. If so, the choice between an implant vs a bridge is based on both function and cost. Implants are expensive...a bridge is less so. We’re likely talking thousands here. If you can afford it the implant is by far the better choice, especially with your history. A bridge is a temporary solution that lasts maybe 10 years...then you need to replace it...but it takes more teeth to anchor it each time. An implant is a one time permanent solution. All this from personal experience.
 

Ozark Wizard

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Sorry to hear about your situation sir. I'll say this of my experience.

I had an issue many years ago that required chemotherapy. The treatment precipitates degenerative bone loss. Teeth got loose, among other things. Talked to a dentist and oral surgeon about implants. I was told I was not a good candidate for implants due to the fact that the bone loss would continue and the implants would also eventually come out or the surgery itself would do more damage than good. They both asked if I smoked. Neither thought it had anything to do with my bone loss.

As far as your collection of tobacco and paraphernalia, I'd wait to see what happens with your mouth. Unless you're in a hurry to get it out of your way.

Best of luck with your new adventure. I'll be thinking of you.
 

Jevverrett

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I was told I had gum recession and bone loss. Of course, I also chew tobacco at work, in addition to pipes and cigars. But they got me straightened out with antibiotics and a very expensive procedure called root planing and scaling. Whole thing put me nearly $3k in the hole, and found out later that it’s not a widely used treatment. I wanna say the drug was called Arrestin. I got the whole riot act read to me about tobacco use and cancer and such also.

I honestly wasn’t the most diligent man when it came to brushing my teeth three times a day. I don’t believe pipe smoking is linked to tooth decay, gum recession or bone loss. Bare in mind, I think it’s required by law to tell you not to use tobacco products. You may just have bad teeth buddy. It happens. I don’t know if it helps you, but do get other opinions. Some franchise dentists are big on up selling. Just saying, I went to a local practice family dentist a year later. He said he didn’t think all that was necessary.
 

AlphaWarrior

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I have stabilized and improved my peridontitis by flossing thoroughly once a day, brushing twice a day, and using mouthwash. I'm also on a 6 month cycle for cleanings. I am told good hygiene is more important than abstaining from tobacco use.
 
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