How Tobacco Usage Affects Your Oral Health

Are you concerned about the effect tobacco use may have on your oral and overall health? Read further to find out. It just may give you cause to quit smoking or chewing. Approximately 80% of patients with oral cancer use tobacco in various forms, like cigarettes or tobacco chewing. Moreover, oral cancer patients who continue to use tobacco after treatment have a higher risk of developing another head or neck cancer. Besides cancer, tobacco use is associated with other types of oral health issues.

That said, let’s explore the ways tobacco usage can affect your oral health.


One of the common effects of tobacco usage is staining on the teeth. This is caused by the tar and nicotine found in tobacco. These substances can turn your teeth yellow in quite a short time, especially if you are a heavy smoker.

Gum Disease

Tobacco contains several chemicals that can accumulate on your teeth and gums over time. These can affect your oral health in various ways. One of the major effects is gum recession, which exposes your tooth roots to bacteria.

These bacteria can, in turn, lead to infection and gum disease. These issues can be costly to treat.

Oral Cancers

When you use any tobacco products, there’s always the risk of developing oral cancer. While annual exams can help you detect tumors early, it’s worth noting that oral cancers typically spread faster compared to other types.

Besides growing quite fast, oral tumors can also spread into the lymph system in a very short time. The fact that these nodes are located in the neck, eliminating them can be more difficult compared to other parts of the body.

Hence, if you use tobacco without paying attention to proper oral care, you may end up with a tumor before it is even detected. Moreover, you may discover that you’ve got quite limited treatment options.

Poor Healing after Dental Procedure

Tobacco users are more susceptible to developing a ‘dry socket’, which is a poorly healing tooth socket after a dental treatment procedure such as tooth extraction. The condition can be excruciatingly painful.

Tobacco users are also more prone to experiencing unbearable pain after gum and oral surgery. Compared to non-smokers, dental implants have little chance of integrating in smokers.

Other effects of tobacco use on oral health include:

  • Halitosis (or bad breath)
  • Inflammation of the salivary glands
  • Increased accumulation of tartar and plaque on the teeth
  • Bone loss in the jaw
  • Increased risk of leukoplakia
  • Lung cancer
  • Stroke
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Tooth decay
  • Heart disease
  • Premature aging
  • Sores or lesions in the mouth


Tobacco use in any form can have detrimental effects on your oral health. The most effective way to avoid these effects is to quit tobacco usage. While quitting smoking is not easy, several strategies can improve your chances of success.

One effective strategy is to enlist the support of family, friends, and even colleagues. You can also consult with a qualified dental professional about nicotine replacement therapy. Also, focus on staying in tobacco-free environments as it can help control your temptations.

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