Effects of Smoking on Oral and Dental Health

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Decades of ongoing promotions of cigarettes through popular culture has transformed itself into a widespread hazard, detrimental to just about every part of our bodies and the mouth is no exception. As is quite evident these days, smoking is a leading reason behind the prevalence of diseases and deaths throughout the world.  

In the US alone, smoking is one the leading causes of preventable deaths and various diseases. According to the latest statistics by the CDC, every year more than 480,000 people lose their lives due to smoking. Even though smoking has significantly declined in recent years due to proactive promotions by anti-cigarette organizations, it still captures around 37 million US adults to this bad habit.  

Aside from its carcinogenic effects and proven toxicity in the respiratory system, smoking is equally hazardous for the oral cavity and dental health. In this article, we will concentrate on several different serious implications of smoking-related to dental health.  

Oral Cancer

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As with most other cancers attributed to smoking, oral cancer is no exception.  It can appear in numerous forms. As a growth or sore in the mouth and remains that after a reasonable amount of time.  There are also the dangers of sores on the lips, tongue, cheeks and in the sinuses, and pharynx (throat). Sores on the bottom of the mouth are also an indication of possible cancer. All are life-threatening, if not diagnosed and treated early.


Halitosis, commonly known as bad breath, is one of the major oral health issues that occur in smokers. Halitosis is not a trivial concern because it can severely impact your social life and public dealings. People might find it unbearable to talk to you in person just because of the stink coming out of your mouth due to smoking.  

Furthermore, bad breath also leads to the development of a perception that a certain individual is untidy and unhygienic in general, even if it’s not the case.

There are primary and secondary ways through which smoking makes your breath smells foul. For instance, as soon as you finish up smoking a cigarette, the smoked particles that remain adhered in the lungs and throats can affect your breath for several hours with their lingering effect.

On the other hand, smoking habits result in the dryness of the mouth. Saliva in our mouth helps in neutralizing the bacteria involved in oral anaerobic reactions, which cause bad breath. Therefore, chain smokers have an enduring bad breath problem because of their dysfunctional salivary glands.

Gum Irritation

Excessive smoking can also cause severe gum irritation. People who don’t follow regular teeth cleaning routine can aggravate this irritation into gum inflammations. Inflamed gums appear swollen and bleed very easily. Gum inflammation, which is also known as a medical term of gingivitis, can lead to more serious periodontal diseases. It is advised to see a professional dentist if you are suffering from unhealthy gums.  

Development of Leukoplakia

People who are smoking for years can also develop an oral health condition called Leukoplakia. In this medical condition, several whitish gray patches protrude throughout the oral cavity (tongue, the floor of the mouth, palate and inside of the cheek).

Development of these patches is in direct connection to the immune response to mouth. Formation of these patches is incited due to the irritation of the epithelial membrane present in the inner lining of the oral cavity which secretes mucus.  

Leukoplakia can also be caused due to poor denture implantation or filling. Rough and uneven tooth surfaces can also lead to the development of this dental issue. Therefore, always consult an experienced dentist to receive any dental therapy.

Teeth Discoloration

Smoking also stains teeth and leads to a yellow and discolored smile. Two ingredients present in cigarettes instigate the process of teeth discoloration.


Even though it’s a colorless psychoactive substance, but after getting oxidized on the enamel, it turns slightly into a yellow tinge.


It is a dark residue formed due to the burning of tobacco and stains the oral cavity in the form of fumes.  

Both of these substances settle in the microscopic pores of the enamel to give your teeth a stained and discolored appearance, which is very much departed from its natural white. A comprehensive dental cleaning and whitening treatment from a qualified dentist can restore the enamel of your oral cavity into its original healthy form.

Apart from these dental health issues, we all know the notoriety of smoking to cause oral cancer. Chronic smoking can also blemish the success of other dental care procedures. So, the only way to protect yourself from the detrimental effects of smoking is to quit it altogether or have a significant reduction in its consumption.

To get rid of this bad habit, nicotine gum and nicotine patches can be used. Similarly, there are medications available to fight the withdrawals of nicotine. It is better to consult your physician or dentist prior to the administration of any of these remedies.

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