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How Smoking Affects Your Dental Health

Close up of a young woman with bad skin and yellow teeth, smoking a cigarette
Author: mcymer Posted: August 19th, 2021 Category:

Smoking tobacco can have damaging effects on your dental health, from stained teeth to oral cancer. Find out how you can protect your smile.

Smoking, especially long-term, can negatively impact many different aspects of your dental health. When you smoke, the combination of chemicals you inhale can lead to cosmetic issues like tooth discoloration, as well as gum disease, and even tooth loss.

Of course, the best way to avoid the negative effects of tobacco is to quit smoking. But for those who haven’t quit yet, or are recovering from years of smoking, it’s important to understand the early signs of dental health problems, and how to treat them. 

Does Smoking Stain Your Teeth?

The most immediate effect of smoking on your dental health is discoloration. Over time, smoking tobacco can lead to yellowing or greying teeth, which worsens with prolonged tobacco use. Many tobacco additives — like tar — collect on the surface of your teeth, leading to a visible coating during chronic consumption.

To minimize staining, smokers should brush their teeth at least twice a day with whitening toothpaste. Toothpaste that contains whitening agents like fluoride hydrogen peroxide usually provides more effective relief for stained teeth. 

However, if your teeth have already become stained due to smoking, clinical whitening treatments may be your best option for a brighter smile. Your dentist can implement a range of options for teeth whitening, from in-office peroxide treatments to at-home whitening trays. To find out which whitening procedure is best for you, visit your dentist for a professional assessment. 

Can Smoking Damage Your Gums?

Stained teeth are a cosmetic result of smoking, but smoking also poses a serious threat to your health. Gum disease and oral cancer in particular are strongly associated with tobacco consumption. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to develop gum disease as non-smokers. 

Gum disease is caused by a variety of factors, including a build-up of bacteria as a result of smoking. Smoking also leads to decreased saliva production, which damages your gums over time. Gum disease can cause your gums to recede, which exposes the sensitive roots of your teeth. As a result, tooth decay and even tooth loss can occur. 

Further, smoking affects your immune system, meaning you become more susceptible to gum disease. As a result, smokers may experience ulcers, infections, and other oral diseases. A weakened immune system also makes it more difficult for your gums to heal from any kind of irritation or inflammation.

The most dangerous result of smoking is oral cancer. Oral cancer isn’t just associated with cigarettes — other tobacco products like cigars, pipes, and dipping tobacco also contain carcinogens. These chemicals increase the risk of cell mutations, potentially causing cancer in your mouth and elsewhere in your body. 

Protecting Your Dental Health at Espire

Ultimately, quitting smoking is the best way to prevent staining, gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer. Resources on quitting are available from the CDC — a good place to start your journey towards a healthier smile. 

If you’re experiencing the effects of smoking on your oral health, visit us at Espire. Our experienced dentists offer effective whitening resources, plus treatments for gum disease and tooth decay. Request an appointment at Espire today — your smile is too important to wait!