How Bad is Smoking for Oral Health?

Dental problems and smoking have gone hand-in-hand since the introduction of tobacco to the consumers across the world. Most of the common warnings regarding smoking and health risks involve emphysema or lung cancer, however, oral health is greatly at risk when it comes to smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products. According to studies released by the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, tobacco use is amongst the top risk factors in the development of periodontal disease. In fact, about half of periodontal disease (gum disease) in smokers comes from smoking. Chronic periodontal disease can even lead to the loss of teeth, a primary risk for smokers today.

Dr. Albert (D.D.S., M.P.H.) is an associate professor at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine who has done a number of studies and research regarding smoking’s effect on the teeth and gums. He warns smokers that some of the common risk factors are difficult to detect. According to Dr. Albert, “Smokers have much less gum bleeding and redness than other people even though their mouths are not healthy. This can lead to the false impression that the gums are healthy. It is therefore very important that tobacco smokers have regular dental exams to evaluate their gum health.”

The following are the most common dental problems caused by smoking:

  • Discoloration in teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Inflamed salivary gland openings near the roof of the mouth
  • Loss of jaw bone
  • Tartar build up on teeth
  • Plaque build up on teeth
  • Increased risk for oral cancer
  • Increased risk for leukoplakia
  • Increased risk of gum disease
  • Tooth loss

Dr. Albert continues in his findings stating that “It is believed that the chemicals contained in tobacco interfere with the flow of blood to the gums. This leads to a slowdown in the healing process. It makes the treatment results less predictable and often unfavorable.” In addition to cigarette smoke, things like smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, and cigars are also contributors to negative gum health. Smoking is a health risk for a wide variety of reasons. Keep your oral hygiene in the best shape possible and quit smoking today!

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