Most people are aware of the adverse effects of smoking on their body. It can lead to various health
problems and, in some cases, fatal diseases. However, many of us do not realise the damage that smoking
causes to their oral health. These effects go beyond bad breath and staining.
How Smoking Affects Your Teeth and Oral Cavity
• Bad breath and Staining : Smoking causes staining on our teeth due to nicotine and tar in the tobacco.
It can make your teeth apprear yellow in a very short time. Heavy smokers may have brown to black
stains after years of smoking. Bad breath is a common problem observed in smokers.
• Gum diseases and dental decay : Smoking can make you twice as prone to gum diseases. Tobacco
products affect the soft tissues of your teeth and the bone attachment and interfere with their normal
function. This makes them more susceptible to infections and wound healing due to impairment of
blood flow. The immune system is lowered down as an effect of smoking causing weaker defence
to oral diseases. In smokers the gums are affected because smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the
bloodstream, so the infected gums are unable to heal. Smokers with gum diseases also develop receding
gums that expose the margins of their crowns making oral hygiene more difficult.
• It is a known fact that smoking causes lung and throat cancer. But do you know that smoking is the
leading cause of outh cancer too. Exposure to the carcinogenic products in the tobacco coupled with
the intense heat created inside the oral cavity, causes mutations of the healthy cell of your mouth
and throat. These mutations bring about various cancerous changes in the tissues of your oral cavity.
People who smoke and drink alcohol have an even greater risk of developing oral cancer than those
who just do one or the other. Oral cancer in people who smoke is most likely to occur on the side of the
tongue, the floor of the mouth and lips. It can also happen in other areas of the mouth.
• Apart from cancerous changes, smoking also causes various lesions in the mouth like ulcers, nicotina
palatini, leukoplakia, burning mouth, etc., some of which may be pre-cancerous.
If you smoke, the following may occur:
• Gum disease, which may be challenging to detect as bleeding gums(an indication of gum disease), may
be absent as tobacco impairs the blood supply to the gums.
• Severe periodontal disease – the risk increases with alcohol use
• Loss of one or more teeth due to periodontal disease. This would make it difficult to chew certain
foods, speak clearly or have the confidence to smile unless replaced.
• At a higher risk of developing acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis, a very painful condition with
terrible smell and taste.
If you smoke or use tobacco products, quitting will help your gums heal and prevent oral diseases.
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