How Smoking Impacts Teeth

Lately commercials have been highlighting the dangers of smoking. Occasionally there will be one which highlights the dangers of smoking on the health of the mouth. The dangers go beyond the surface. While I am comfortable with people walking their own paths, as I dentist I am vehemently against smoking. I know the havoc which can be inflicted on the mouth because I have seen it first hand. Hopefully, after knowing what can happen, people will be more informed and able to make an educated decision.

Leukoplakia isn’t heavily televised and most people have no idea what it is. But when it develops it is definitely a cause for concern. Smoking causes irritation to the mucous membranes around the mouth and tongue. The symptoms can range from mild to severe on a case-by-case basis. When this irritation is chronic, as is often the case with smokers, white and/or grayish patches can develop around in the mouth. Most frequently Leukoplakia is seen in senior citizens, but it can happen at anytime during the life of a person. Leukoplakia does have other causes, such as irritation from rough teeth or ill-fitting dentures and sun exposure but, smoking is towards the top of the list.

The risk of developing oral cancer increases tremendously when a person is a smoker. Oral cancer can affect the tongue, lips, gums, and throat, often spreading to incorporate more than one area. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation approximately 45,750 Americans are diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer annually. Of those who are newly diagnosed, only about 57% will be alive in 5 years. On a worldwide scale, 450,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed every year.

Smoking is notorious for staining teeth. Those pearly whites will go to dark and dingy more and more as smoking continues. This not only affects the appearance of a person, but the stains get into the enamel and weaken it. Enamel is a very strong substance, but once erosion begins it is a hard process to stop. Once the enamel is gone, the rest of the tooth becomes vulnerable and open to decay. For this reason, smokers are as likely to develop cavities as people who do not brush. You can find out more information about whitening treatments at

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease is one of the largest reasons for tooth loss.Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for developing gum disease. Smoking encourages plaque to build up, This plaque build-up leads to gingivitis. When gingivitis does not get sufficient treatment in a timely manner, it advances to gum disease. When periodontal disease sets in, the gums begin to separate from the teeth, making them more vulnerable to infections and more likely to loosen or fall out.

Not only does smoking increase your chances of developing periodontal disease, it also hinders the effectiveness of treatments. Sometimes this can result in dry socket after having a tooth removed. The reasons available to motivate them to not smoke are numerous and apparent. The thing about our teeth is that once they are broken, cracked, chipped, or gone, it is forever. It is never too early to get a checked-up if you are concerned about your oral health.

Copyright Dr.Jean-Jacques Edderai – 2015

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