How does smoking affect my oral health

Many people are aware that smoking can cause cancers in the lung and throat. Yet there is less awareness on how smoking tobacco and other tobacco products can affect your oral health. These range from cosmetic issues to the more serious health problems that can reduce the quality of life. No wonder then that it’s not only your health care provider but also your surgeon who will encourage you to quit smoking.



One effect that’s clear to all is that tobacco smoke can easily stain your teeth. Tobacco smoke is full of nicotine and tar and these are the substances that make the teeth turn yellow. Those who have been heavily smoking for many years will even complain that their teeth are turning brown.


Particles inhaled when smoking attach to the teeth and other soft tissue inside the mouth. The longer these particles stay on these surfaces the greater the bacteria produced. The bacteria will begin to produce a smell similar to tobacco smoke, leaving the user with an unpleasant smell on their breath.


Tobacco use is heavily linked to the development of gum or periodontal disease.  In fact, smokers and those that use smokeless tobacco are twice as likely to get gum disease than those that don’t. The American Academy of Periodontology has identified smoking as the most significant risk factor in the development and progression of gum disease. This is because those who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque which leads to bacterial infection in the gum line. Smoking also creates problems when treating gum disease. Smokers have less oxygen in their bloodstream so their infected gum tissue doesn’t heal as easily.


Gum disease in turn is the most common cause for tooth loss. It affects the part of the jawbone that anchors your teeth. As the bone deteriorates teeth become loose and eventually fall out. It has also been linked to complications in pregnancy and some other serious health conditions including, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and cancer.


It’s common knowledge that smoking and smokeless tobacco can cause cancers in the lung and throat, but many are not aware that it’s one of the main causes of oral cancer. At least 75% of cancers of the mouth, tongue, throat, and lips are found in tobacco users. Every year thousands of people die from oral cancer brought on by smoking.

OUR surgeons CAN HELP

It’s highly recommended that smokers visit their surgeon regularly. As teeth become stained more easily and plaque builds up faster you’ll also need to visit the hygienist on a more regular basis. When you visit the surgeon they will check to see that your teeth and gums are healthy. They will be able to spot any lesions or any other irregularities that might have developed. If they detect anything, then you may be referred to have a biopsy. During a biopsy a small tissue sample will be taken and evaluated to see if it’s cancerous.

The surgeons at Bay Area OSM perform such biopsies. Book an appointment today.