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Smoking is Injurious to Oral and Dental Health!


Smoking is injurious to Oral and Dental Health! Have you ever heard of this slogan? Every one of us would have heard, seen or written about ‘Smoking Is Injurious to Health’. We have seen this slogan on the cigarette packs as well as in other anti-smoking posters. There is no poster that explicitly talks about the ill-effects of smoking on oral and dental health. Although Oral and Dental health comes under the whole gambit of Health, very few realize it until the damage occurs beyond repairs. According to NHIS survey, 2008 conducted by National Center for Health Statistics, 24.8 million men (23.1 percent) and 21.1 million women (18.3 percent) are smokers.


Smoking is inhalation and exhalation of fumes by the burning of tobacco in cigars, cigarettes and pipes. Many of us are aware that smoking is bad for health; however most of us are not aware of the fact that smoking contributes for many dental problems. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, hookah water pipes and any other form of tobacco intake causes dental problems. Dentists should try and educate their patients regarding the damage that smoking can cause to their dental health. Just like any other part of the body teeth and gums are very important and should be taken care of properly.

Oral and Dental Health Problems that occur due to smoking

The oral and dental health problems that occur due to smoking and tobacco usage are as follows:
1.Oral Cancer – occurs in the mouth, pharynx, larynx and oesophagus. Cigarettes and cigars contain several toxins that can cause cancer. The occurrence of dental problems cannot be arrested by not inhaling the smoke. It has been assessed that 75% of the oral cancer cases result from smoking. In its early stage oral cancer can appear as an ulcer and this is why it sometimes goes unnoticed. This cancer can spread through the lips, mouth, and throat and any new lesions to the mouth or lips should be looked at by a dentist.
2.Gum Problems – smoking or tobacco usage reduces the blood flow to your body and this includes your gum area and this is harmful for your gum tissues and bones in the mouth. Smoking causes gum inflammation which loosens the gums. The bacteria in the mouth gets into the loosened areas and this interacts with sugar and starch in your diet thereby forming plaque/ tartar that are difficult to clean.
3.Periodontitis – is an advanced form of gum disease accompanied by bone loss and subsequent tooth loss is exaggerated in a smoker.
4.Halitosis/ bad breath Smoking decreases the saliva flow in your mouth thereby causing dry mouth which in turn causes bad breath. Saliva is like a mouthwash. The cigarettes contain chemicals such as nicotine, tar etc. and these chemicals stick to your teeth, gums and other places in your mouth. This also causes Halitosis/ bad breath.
5.Plaque – one of the major contributing factors for tooth Decay is the formation and accumulation of plaque on your teeth and smoking accelerates this accumulation thereby causing tooth decay.
6.Dry Mouth – smoking stops the saliva flow and allows bacteria to prosper. Hence smokers suffer from dry mouth.
7.Dry Socket – healing delays occur from any oral surgery because of smoking thereby causing dry socket.
8.Black Hairy TongueSmokers taking antibiotics are at greater risk of developing a black hairy tongue because the antibiotics will also upset the delicate microbial balance in your mouth.
9.Tooth Staining/ discoloration – teeth turn yellow by leaving sticky tar deposits thereby causing brown stains and requires cleaning by a professional; brushing is not sufficient.
10.Tooth Decay/Caries/ Cavities – damages gum tissues thereby causing receding of gums which exposes the roots of your tooth; this results in increased tooth Sensitivity for hot and cold substances and also result in tooth decay and tooth loss.

11.Smokeless tobacco – also contain nicotine as well as cancer producing toxins and causes early occurrence of gum disease and results in oral cancer ADA says that smokeless tobacco products contain a minimum of 28 cancer-causing chemicals.
12.Gum recession and gum disease – increases the severity of gum recession and gum disease thereby causing tooth and bone loss.
13.Periodontal treatment and dental implants – as the healing of the tissues will be impaired any surgical intervention is contraindicated as the failure rate increases.
14.Smoker’s palate – roof of your mouth shows red inflammation
This list gives only dental problems associated with smoking. There are a number of other medical problems that are caused by smoking.

Avoidance of oral and Dental health problems

Smoking is a manmade problem that is not a necessity. If you want to avoid the oral and dental health problems associated with smoking the best and only way is to quit smoking TODAY.

You can stop smoking by following the cold turkey method if you are not a chronic smoker. Chronic smokers might have to resort to detoxification, counseling etc. which will help them to manage their smoking withdrawal symptoms during their efforts to stop smoking.

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