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How Smoking Affects your Oral Health

The Effects of Smoking on Your Teeth


More than 1 out of 10 people smoke. That equates to 36 million people who smoke in the United States. This number has declined, but it is still a wide spread habit. Smoking tobacco keeps your mouth from fighting off infection which means that bacteria produced by smoking will be able to thrive.

At the most basic level, smoking causes plaque and bacteria to build up, which causes a large range of oral issues.


Teeth Discoloration

Probably the most obvious damage caused by smoking is stained and yellow teeth. The yellow is caused by the tobacco sticking to the white enamel of your teeth. Over a period of time this will cause your teeth to become stained. Whitening your teeth can help prevent discoloration for a time, but if smoking is continual or consistent, then it is impossible to eliminate the effects.


Bad Breath

While you may think that once you stop smoking the smell on your breath goes away, this is not true. Smoking, and especially cigarettes, cause severe breath issues. As mentioned above, the growth of bacteria is the cause of bad breath. Even if you brush and use mouth wash, this won’t remove the bad breath often. Since the smell isn’t from your teeth, it is actually from your gums. Gum disease, sores, and decay are the real cause of much of the bad breath. The only way to get rid of this severe issue is to stop smoking and consult with a dentist. Another very painful side effect of tobacco is it can actually inflame the salivary glands, which causes pain and swelling. It could even require surgery to fix.


Gum Disease

Smokers are two times more likely to have gum disease than nonsmokers. The more you smoke the higher the risk of gum disease, and gum disease treatments generally are incredibly effective on people currently smoking. Since your mouth can’t fight off the bacteria, it will build up over time and start effecting your gums. If it isn’t dealt with, it can actually cause your gums to pull back from your teeth and even the bone underneath. In advanced forms, teeth falling out is common. Even if you are doing everything to fight gum disease, but still smoke. It is likely that they won’t prevent it long term.



Oral Cancer

This would be the worst mouth related issue that smoking can cause. Roughly 50,000 people each year are diagnosed with oral cancer. 80% of that number is because of smoking. Heavy usage of alcohol can cause oral cancer also. Generally, a sign of oral cancer is red or white spots in the mouth. It also will often cause difficulty in swallowing or chewing. You should also pay attention for numbness in the jaw and pain in your ears. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should see your dentist as well as a doctor. Treatment is much more effective if you catch it early.


Those are some of the major side effects that are caused by smoking (and these are only related to oral health). While a dentist can put together a plan to help slow some of these effects, they won’t be able to completely remove them. The best way to do this is to stop smoking.