Impact of Smoking on Oral Health


It’s no surprise that smoking is harmful to the entire body. The negative effects of smoking have even been found to impact your teeth. Individuals who smoke have an increased likelihood of developing oral infections, gum disease, tooth loss, trouble healing after dental procedures, and oral cancer than non-smokers. Quitting smoking is a must-do if you want to maintain a healthy smile and improve your overall well-being. This article will give complete information about how smoking impacts oral health.

  • According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 14% of Americans age 18 and older are smokers.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Oral Sedation

Understanding Smoking and Oral Health Implications

Smoking can take a significant negative toll on your mouth. It can cause bad breath, tooth discoloration, excess bacterial plaque buildup, gum disease, oral sores, tooth loss, and many other issues. Your dental professionals can help offer you resources to quit and help you manage the harmful side effects of smoking.

Effects of Smoking on the Mouth

Dry Mouth

Smoking can increase your chance of experiencing dry mouth. Not only is this feeling uncomfortable, but it can also make you more likely to have tooth decay and bad breath. Adequate saliva production is needed for keeping your mouth hydrated and keeping oral bacteria at bay.

Decreased Taste Sensation

Smoking can make it hard for you to enjoy the foods you love, as it can alter your taste buds. This can make the foods and beverages you consume not taste good!

Bad Breath & Taste

Smoking can leave a smelly odor within your mouth and alter your sense of taste.

Salivary Gland Inflammation

Smoking can cause oral inflammation, which can lead to your salivary glands becoming swollen and not functioning properly. This in turn can cause narrowing of the salivary glands and lead to less saliva production.

Leukoplakia Risk

Smokers are more likely to develop leukoplakia, which is a condition characterized by white patches inside of the mouth. Leukoplakia itself is benign, but may be an early sign of cancer.

Mouth Cancer

Oral cancer is a life-threatening condition that needs the immediate attention of medical and dental professionals. Smoking increases the risk of developing oral cancer, which can be found on the lips, tongue, cheeks, throat, floor of the mouth, roof of the mouth, salivary glands, or any other area of the mouth.

Effects of Smoking on the Teeth

Tooth discoloration

The ingredients in cigarettes, including nicotine and tar can cause your teeth to become stained, appearing yellow or brown in color.

Plaque & Tartar Buildup

Smokers are more likely to have bacterial plaque and tartar build-up than non-smokers. This can increase your chances of having dental cavities and gum disease.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a common consequence of smoking. The side effects of smoking such as plaque build-up and dry mouth promote bacterial overgrowth within the mouth, leading to a whole host of oral issues.

Poor Healing after Extraction

Smoking can make dental procedures like tooth extraction more complicated and uncomfortable. Not only can smoking increase the sensation of pain experienced, but also can slow the healing process once the tooth is removed.

Tooth Loss

Smoking over time can lead to an unhealthy mouth, which can result in tooth loss. Smoking worsens gum disease, which leads to bone loss and the inability for oral tissues to support the teeth.

Effects of Smoking on the Gums

Soft Tissue Whitening

Smoking can cause white lesions on the soft tissues within the mouth, known as smoker’s keratosis. This condition is considered to be premalignant, and can resolve by quitting smoking.

Calculus Buildup

Smoking leads to bacterial accumulation, which can create dental calculus that breaks down your teeth. Calculus build-up can also irritate your gums and lead to their breakdown.

Abscess Formation

Dental abscesses are life-threatening, and their occurrence can be increased by smoking. Dental abscesses are a bacterial infection which appears as a pocket of pus surrounding affected teeth.

Loss of Tooth Support

Smokers are more likely to experience gum disease than non-smokers, which destroys the supporting oral structures that normally keep your teeth secured in the jawbone. If untreated, tooth loss can result.

Gum Damage

Gum damage is a common consequence of smoking, which triggers additional oral problems as well as systemic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Gum disease must be managed by dental professionals.

Oral Health Consequences of Different Tobacco Products


Cigarettes contain nicotine, which is an addictive ingredient that can cause gum disease and tooth decay. Cigarettes also contain toxins that are carcinogenic, increasing your risk of developing cancer.

Smokeless Tobacco

Smokeless tobacco can also cause many oral problems, including gum recession, tooth decay, oral cancer, and eventual tooth loss. Although the product is not being smoked, the chemicals and toxins are still harmful to your oral cavity and entire body.

Pipe Tobacco

Although pipe tobacco may seem different than smoking cigarettes, it has not been proven to be any safer. The chemicals in pipe tobacco can similarly increase your risk for cancer and other health issues.

Vapes and E-Cigarettes

Vapes and e-cigarettes have been found to produce similar risks of oral and overall health issues. Research has found them to increase your likelihood of experiencing tooth decay, gum disease, gum recession, teeth grinding, tooth sensitivity, oral infection, and delayed healing of oral tissues, just to name a few consequences.

Oral Health Remedies for Smokers

Consider Nicotine Replacement Therapy

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) may be recommended to help you quit smoking. It involves using lower doses of nicotine through means other than tobacco. It is often supplied in the form of gum, patches, sprays, inhalers, or lozenges.


Rinsing with anti-bacterial and fluoride containing mouthwash can help manage oral bacteria to lower the risk of oral diseases.

Dental Care Products

Dental products including fluoride toothpaste and dental floss are necessary to help clean and remove bacteria and food debris from the teeth. Your dental professionals can offer recommendations of specific dental products to help you maintain the health of your smile.

Use Sugar-Free Gum or Lozenges

Sugar-free gum or lozenges can help distract you from smoking. Not to mention, they help stimulate saliva production, which can naturally help you fight against tooth decay and dry mouth.

Visit Dentist Regularly

Visiting your dentist regularly is key to maintaining a healthy smile. They can offer education and resources on quitting smoking and how you can better take care of your teeth and gums. They are also your first line of defense for catching oral diseases early before they worsen.

Oral Health Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Improved Gum Health

By quitting smoking, your gum health will improve significantly. Gum inflammation will slowly reduce and the infection can heal properly with good oral hygiene practices after you quit smoking.

Reduced Oral Inflammation

Smoking triggers oral inflammation and oral tissue breakdown. When you stop smoking, your gums can heal and the swelling and infection will reduce.

Healthier Salivary Glands

As mentioned, smoking harms the salivary glands and thus the production of saliva. Quitting smoking can significantly improve the health of your salivary glands by reducing inflammation.

Reduced Risk of Oral Cancer

Some studies show smokers to be 10X more at risk to develop oral cancer than non-smokers. By quitting, you can reduce this risk and even expand your life expectancy.

Better Healing after Dental Procedures

Smokers have a slower healing time after dental procedures. Quitting smoking can help improve healing recovery time and repair gum tissue.

Reduced Risk of Tooth Loss

In severe cases, smoking can result in tooth loss as a result of progressive gum disease. Quitting smoking can lower your risk of worsening gum disease and experiencing tooth loss.

Fresher Breath and Improved Taste

When you stop smoking, you will notice a significant improvement in your breath and your taste sensation. This will help you feel more confident in speaking with people and can help you better enjoy the foods and drinks you love.

Improved Oral Health

Quitting smoking will help improve your oral health overall. From healthier gums, to stronger teeth, eliminating your exposure to the harmful toxins and chemicals within smoking products will help you keep your teeth for a lifetime.


Quitting smoking is a challenging yet rewarding step to a healthy life. The effects of smoking can be life-threatening, which is why we encourage you to quit starting now. Be sure to inform your healthcare providers if you are a smoker, as they can make the best recommendations on how to quit and help you along your journey to a healthier you. Smoking not only causes bad breath, altered taste, lip and teeth discoloration, tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss, but also can cause life-threatening oral cancer. The best way to improve your oral health and overall health is to quit!