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Tobacco use

Tobacco use and your oral health

If you are a smoker, you are probably already aware that this habit contributes to the development of pulmonary diseases, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Tobacco usage is also damaging to your oral health.

Periodontal diseases

Recent studies have shown that tobacco consumption is one of the main risk factors in the development of periodontal diseases or, at least, it is a major contributing element.

  • You are more likely to develop tartar, i.e. the hardened form of dental plaque that can only be removed from your teeth by a dental professional.
  • If tartar is not removed, it remains under your gum, destroying your gingival tissues, causing your gum to recede.
  • It can sometimes create pockets between your teeth and gum that fill with bacteria causing different kinds of diseases.
  • Left untreated, bacteria can attack the tissues and bones. Tobacco also reduces blood flow to the gingival tissues, limiting access to the nutrients that contribute to the health of bones and the periodontal support of the teeth.
  • Your gum will begin to recede from your teeth and the latter will appear longer. This affliction can be very painful and lead to the loss of your teeth.

Tooth loss

The Academy of General Dentistry reports that men who smoke lose an average of 2.9 teeth every 10 years and that women who smoke lose an average of 1.5 teeth over the same period. This number is divided in two for non-smokers. If you start smoking at the age of 18 and you smoke one pack a day, you could lose between 4 and 5 teeth before the age of 35.

According to the data collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, only 20% of people over the age of 65 that have never smoked lost their teeth, while the statistic climbs up to more than 40% for regular smokers over the age of 65.

Other oral health issues

Periodontal diseases and tooth loss are not the only negative effects of tobacco use. The chemicals contained in tobacco can slow down the healing process of periodontal treatments or oral surgery. It may even be possible that treatments become less effective for smokers.

Moreover, research has shown that exposure to tobacco smoke in children can slow down the development of their permanent teeth.

Other negative effects include:

  • oral cancers;
  • bad breath;
  • teeth staining;
  • oral wounds;
  • loss of taste acuity;
  • lower chances of success of periodontal disease treatments and dental implants.


Many people believe that smoking cigars is a less damaging option than smoking cigarettes. In fact, cigars contain 40 times the quantity of nicotine and tar of cigarettes and cigar smokers and cigarette smokers alike are at risk to develop health issues and suffer from tooth loss.

Protect your smile

If you smoke, you should brush your teeth and floss regularly, and see your dentist every three months for a thorough cleaning. The best way to protect your smile is to stop smoking. Talk to our dental team to learn more ways in which you can improve your oral and overall health.