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March 2018

oral health problems from tobacco use

Oral Health Problems Associated with Tobacco Use

By | Oral Hygiene

Tobacco destroys the attachment of gum tissue to teeth

Smoking cigarettes or cigars, chewing tobacco, and even vaping can cause oral health problems.  These habits seem to interfere with the attachment of soft tissue and bone to your teeth. More specifically, the film left by using tobacco products damages the soft tissue cells of your gums.  This barrier makes smokers more prone to infections in the mouth, such as gum disease and seems to impede blood flow to the gums. This reduction prevents the body from clearing out the germs needed to prevent infection.

Smoking Increases Dental Problems

These 10 problems are more common for tobacco users:

  1. Bad Breath
  2. Tooth Discoloration
  3. Inflammation of the salivary gland
  4. Increased plaque or Tartar
  5. Carrying Leukoplakia, white patches in your mouth
  6. Increased Gum Disease, which is the leading cause of tooth loss
  7. Slower healing because of reduced blood flow
  8. Decreased success rates for dental implants
  9. Increased risk of Oral Cancer
  10. A higher rate of bone loss of the Jaw

Are Smokeless Tobacco Products Safer?

No, they are not.  These products contain up to 28 different chemicals that have been shown to increase the risk of getting Oral Cancer, Cancer of the throat or Esophagus, and Gum Disease.   If these problems are discovered early enough, there is a better chance of halting their progression and preventing damage. Research has shown that chewing tobacco has more nicotine than cigarettes.  This makes quitting this habit much harder than quitting smoking. This also increases their hazard. Users of smokeless tobacco products are twice as likely to develop oral cancer than those who smoke.

Chewing tobacco irritates the gum tissue and causes inflammation so the gums pull away from teeth.  Once this happens, a pocket is created between the gums and teeth. 

This pocket can then fill with bacteria which causes infections and an acidic environment for germs to thrive and multiply.  Thus, increasing the risk of oral health problems. Once germs take hold, the inflammation created may cause the gums to bleed; this is clinically known as Gingivitis.  If the Gingivitis is not treated, an infection may occur and lead to Gum Disease. When this happens, the germs may travel in the bloodstream and attack other organs in the body.

Please Kick the Use Of Tobacco To The Curb

No matter how long you have used tobacco products, quitting NOW can greatly reduce serious risks to your health. Studies have shown that even after smoking for eleven years and quitting, these former smokers were not at a significantly higher risk of having gum disease than people who never smoked.

Even reducing the amount, you smoke may help. One study found that smokers who cut their use of cigarettes in half reduced their chances of developing gum disease by half.  Another study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association showed that Leukoplakia, white patches in your mouth, completely disappeared within 6 weeks after quitting.  

I hope the risk of oral health problems, systemic diseases, or just the cost alone are reason enough to find a way to stop the use of tobacco.

Recommended Oral Health Habits

Dr. Oyangen of Advanced Aesthetics Dentistry in Schenectady NY recommended you:

  1. Visit a dentist as often as recommended.  For example, Diabetics should visit more often.
  2. Have your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year
  3. At a minimum, brushing your teeth should be done twice a day
  4. Floss Regularly
  5. Quit Smoking

Please make these habitual to minimize your risk of oral health problems and maximize your health.  Live long, healthy and keep Smiling!


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