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Ben Wilcox
Ben is the practice principal at Shore Dental, Sydney. He graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery in 2004 and…

The Effects of Smoking on Oral Health: your dentist can help

January 4, 2015 by Ben Wilcox

smoking and poor oral health

So, smoking is bad. We know that; everyone knows that. Smoking is bad, and it causes diseases and other unpleasant conditions that can affect pretty much every area of your body. Here, though, we want to talk specifically about smoking and oral health. The American Dental Association has studied this issue, and they have accumulated a wealth of information on the subject, in addition to suggestions about ways to quit.

Smoking can cause all kinds of negative effects, minor, major, and everything in between. According to the ADA website,, the following health issues can result from smoking:

  • Bad Breath
  • Staining and Discoloration of Teeth and Tongue
  • Dulled Ability to Taste or Smell
  • Slow Healing After Oral Surgery
  • Cosmetic Issues with Teeth that are Hard to Fix
  • Gum Disease
  • Oral Cancer

While it's not considered to be a major health issue, bad breath from smoking can be an indication that something else is going on, like periodontal disease, which is quite a bit more serious. And points out that the nicotine in cigarettes is a vasoconstrictor, meaning that it reduces blood flow. So gum disease caused by smoking is not as obvious as gum disease caused by other factors, because the gums really aren't swollen or red, and they don't bleed easily.

The effect of smoking that is more obvious is that after a time, stains and discoloration develop on the teeth or the tongue. This can have a major negative effect on self-image, self-esteem, and confidence. You might avoid social situations because of self-consciousness. Maybe you don't smile when you have your picture taken. Paired with bad breath, this can make social situations awkward and uncomfortable, causing you to hang back and avoid contact with others.

Non-smokers may think that oral health problems caused by smoking are minor, but when you consider that they can ultimately lead to cancer, that's not so minor. But smoking is an addiction, and it's difficult to stop and try to reverse the damage. Your dentist can be of assistance in eliminating the need to smoke from your life.

As already mentioned, breaking the habit is easier said than done. Nicotine is highly addictive, and you really have to be focused and dedicated to the idea of quitting. The website states that the help of dentists and hygienists is extremely effective in enabling patients to finally stop smoking. The site goes on to say that most dentists discuss tobacco addiction and cessation with their patients, and provide effective advice and assistance to help break the habit of reaching for a cigarette, whether it's after a meal, when you start your car, or as a response to stress.

If you would like to quit, consult with your dentist and hygienist. They will be able to offer suggestions and methods that fit your needs and are likely to be successful, as well as support for your efforts.

This is something you should do for yourself, to improve your health, prevent diseases, and ward off unpleasant and embarrassing effects like stained teeth and/or tongue. A dental professional also has the training and skills to lessen the unsightly effects of cigarette use, and this will be a strong boost for your self-confidence and your social life. So stop hesitating – make an appointment and see your dentist soon. Eliminating physical discomfort and social awkwardness goes a long way toward improving your overall lifestyle. Not to mention that discarding your cigarettes will most likely improve your health and lengthen your life.