How Smoking Affects Your Dental Health

Most people are aware of the detrimental effects smoking has on overall health.

The Impact of Smoking on Dental Health

  • Smoking can cause tooth staining
  • Smoking can contribute to a drier than normal mouth, which can accelerate the progress of dental diseases like tooth decay
  • Smoking can contribute to gum disease and tooth loss
  • Many smokers experience bad breath (halitosis)
  • Smoking can slow down the healing of injuries and diseases in the mouth
  • Smoking is the leading cause of oral cancer (cancer of the mouth)

Smoking Stains Teeth

The chemicals inhaled when smoking can stain the teeth, fillings, gums, and other soft tissues of the mouth. 

Stains from smoking can be difficult to shift with regular brushing. Some gritty toothpastes are manufactured to assist smokers in removing stains. However, these still may not completely remove the discolouration, and care needs to be exercised not to traumatise the gums when using abrasive pastes.

A professional tooth cleaning can remove surface stains, and teeth whitening can help to brighten teeth with deeper stains. But if smoking doesn’t cease, the discolouration is likely to return (to varying extents).

Smoking Can Contribute to a Dry Mouth

Smoking, especially long-term, can aggravate mouth dryness by reducing the amount of saliva produced and making the saliva thicker(1). This, in turn, can accelerate the progress of dental diseases like tooth decay.

Drier mouths can cause discomfort during swallowing and speaking. Smokers sometimes compensate by choosing softer, more processed foods, some of which contain added sugars. This diet can increase the risk of tooth decay.

Smoking Can Contribute to Gum Disease and Tooth Loss

Smokers are more likely to experience gum disease, and their disease is more likely to progress more rapidly than non-smokers.

There is also a strong association between smoking and tooth loss(2).

Smoking Can Contribute to Bad Breath

The bad breath (halitosis) experienced by smokers can be directly related to the smell of the smoke they inhale or secondary to the presence of gum disease and/or tooth decay.

Smoking Can Delay Healing in the Mouth

Nicotine and carbon monoxide are present in cigarette smoke. These, amongst other chemicals, slow down the healing of soft tissues. It may take smokers longer to recover from dental treatment and oral surgery, including the placement of dental implants.

Mouth Cancer and Smoking

Cigarette smoking is one of the risk factors for developing mouth cancer. Dr Teo includes an oral cancer screening at each check-up appointment.

Article References

  1. Petrušić, Nikolina et al. The Effect of Tobacco Smoking on SalivationActa stomatologica Croatica vol. 49,4 (2015): 309-15. doi:10.15644/asc49/4/6
  2. Tobacco In Australia, Chapter 3: Dental Diseases
  3. Oral Health Foundation How to spot mouth cancer