Tobacco Use and Oral Health

by | Jun 27, 2022 | Blog Posts

Tobacco Use and Oral Health

Most people understand that tobacco is bad for your general health. Tobacco use and oral health are no different. In fact, it’s just as serious.

Did you know that smoking cigarettes and other forms of tobacco use causes oral cancer, gum disease, and other oral health problems? And that the use of smokeless tobacco is associated with increased risks of oral cancer? [1]

Improving your smile isn’t the only reason to seek preventative or cosmetic dental care. Let’s review the relationship between tobacco and oral health.

The Effect of Tobacco On Teeth

Everyone wants a smile they love and aren’t afraid to show off. A person who chews or smokes tobacco will soon experience stained teeth and discoloration on the tongue. The teeth of a smoker tend to develop yellow, brown, dark brown, or even black stains, on their teeth, depending on their smoking habits.[2]

Snuff, smoking cigars, and chewing tobacco are all made of less refined materials. They contain small rough particles that can cause abrasions on the teeth and wear them down quicker and unevenly.

Tobacco products contain more than 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic, including nicotine which is the primary addictive element.[3] These toxins promote tooth decay. If left untreated or if tobacco use continues, advanced decay can cause teeth to get loose and fall out altogether.

Smoking and Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is an infection that affects the gums. It begins with bacteria on the teeth that make their way beneath the gum line.

As the infection progresses, symptoms will increase, and the gums will pull away from the tooth. Poor dental hygiene and smoking exacerbate this problem, putting smokers and nicotine users at increased risk of gum disease.[4]

The Center For Disease Control reports symptoms of gum disease to be teeth sensitivity, red, swollen or tender gums, loose teeth, gums that bleed, receding gums, and painful chewing.[5]

Other Oral Health Complications Related To Smoking and Tobacco Use

Aside from the systemic effects of nicotine on the body, it can also have various adverse effects on one’s oral health. Smokers and chewers of tobacco products may experience a burning sensation, frequent throat irritation, and even mouth ulcers.[6]

The nicotine commonly found in tobacco products can reduce saliva production and flow, resulting in dry lips and mouth. The saliva produced is often thicker, which isn’t good for teeth health. Low saliva production also impacts how easily food particles stick to teeth. Food that remains on the teeth feeds bacteria and promotes tooth decay.[7]

Did you know that many adults over 65 who smoke cigarettes have lost all of their natural teeth? They either live without or need dentures to chew and speak.[8]

Tobacco has also been found to slow the body’s biological healing processes after an oral procedure. The science community also notes that tobacco use inhibits our biological immune systems, reducing the ability to fight infections.[9]

Other health impacts of smoking include a decreased sense of taste and smell, cosmetic dentistry challenges, and bad breath (halitosis).[10]

Finally, tobacco use puts the smoker or chewer at increased risk of developing oral cancer. Dentists associate tobacco with the development of mouth cancers. Mouth cancer can affect the cheeks, tongue, lips, and pallet.[11]

The Oral Benefits of Not Smoking, Chewing Tobacco, or Vaping

Tobacco products are designed for dependence. As noted above, nicotine is an addictive, toxic chemical that leads to many serious oral health issues and contributes to systemic health concerns.

When you stop using tobacco, you will drastically improve your oral health. Further teeth staining will be minimized, and you may find that your bad breath also disappears. Saliva production will increase and prevent dry mouth and lips.

With the help of periodontal therapies, the gums can heal properly. This will bolster their support to keep the teeth from becoming loose and falling out unnecessarily. Most importantly, the overall oral health risk factors will decrease.

Call Empire Dental To Discuss Tobacco Use, Oral Health, and Successful Treatment Options

Get your smile back and improve your oral health. Call today for a consultation at 585-671-1650!














Dr. Cohen has been practicing dentistry in private and public settings for over 10 years, completing her DMD degree in 2010 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Committed to providing dental care of the highest level, Dr. Cohen relocated to Rochester in 2016 to pursue advanced dental trainings at the Dental Urgent Care Fellowship at The University of Rochester, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, graduating in 2017, and the AEGD Residency program in 2019. She recently completed an additional advanced General Practice Residency program at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany NY. This summer she moved back to Rochester with her husband Kevin, a native Rochesterian, to be closer to family. Throughout her career and personal life, Dr. Cohen has shown her genuine compassion and care to people and patients from all walks of life. She volunteered in underserved areas, practiced in clinics for patients with complex special needs, and treated medically compromised patients among others. She also taught and mentored other dentists and students helping them achieve their professional and personal goals. Most of all, Dr. Cohen’s warm personality and love of people create a welcoming, comfortable feeling for both patients and staff.