Skip to content
Adult male outside smoking and exhaling a cloud of smoke.

Oral Health

Prepare to have a better, healthier life. Check out why you should quit smoking, vaping and chewing tobacco.

Most people know that smoking and using tobacco is damaging to their health, but the effects on oral health are often overlooked. From simple staining of the enamel to fatal diseases like mouth cancer, here’s what you need to know about how the tobacco products you’re putting in your mouth could harm your oral health.

Look Closer

The Risks

Smoking cigarettes, vaping or using smokeless tobacco can harm far more than your lungs and heart — it can also be detrimental to your teeth, gums and overall oral health.

Did you know that more than 40 percent of current smokers between ages 20 and 64 have untreated tooth decay?

 

Bad Breath

Smokers, vapers and chewing tobacco users all are at an increased risk of bad breath. Most people know about bad breath associated with smoking and chewing, but sweet flavors in vaping devices won’t save users from having bad breath with continued use. When you vape, you’re breathing in an aerosol, and that’s not harmless.

It’s doesn’t stop with bad breath. You could be at risk for symptoms like these:

  • Dry mouth — which leads to bad breath, sores and tooth decay
  • Periodontal disease — which damages gums and can damage the jaw
  • Cavities — which may come from acidity in vape juice
  • Tooth and bone loss
  • Receding gums
Staining

According to the Oral Health Foundation, over a short period of time, the tar and nicotine in your cigarettes can lead to yellow staining. With continued use, seasoned smokers will often notice their teeth turn from white to yellow to near brown.

Gum Disease

When you smoke, your immune system weakens, which makes it harder to fight off infection, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As a result of a weak immune system, a smoker is twice as likely to get gum (periodontal) disease as a non-smoker — a heavy smoker can be four to five times as likely to get the disease. This infection breaks down and destroys the bone that holds your teeth in place. According to the CDC, symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Loose or sensitive teeth
  • Red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Gums pulling away from teeth

Gum disease has two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis, and if the latter is not treated, your teeth may become loose and fall out.

According to the CDC, 43 percent of current smokers who are 65 or older have lost ALL their teeth.

Oral Cancer

One of the most serious dangers for your oral health is the threat of oral cancer and other cancers of the esophagus, pharynx, larynx, stomach and pancreas.