• Dr. Scott Eichhorn

Smoking and Your Oral Health

7 Things You Need To Know About Smoking and Your Oral Health

It shouldn't be a secret to you that smoking isn't good for your overall health, but did you know that tobacco (even smokeless tobacco) will greatly increase gum cancer? And gum cancer isn't the only harm that can come from tobacco. Here we have listed 7 things that can happen when smoking, chewing, or vaping tobacco.

1. Oral Cancer

Nationally, tobacco contributes to about one-third of U.S. cancer, one-quarter of heart disease and about 490,000 premature deaths each year. Tobacco is a known cause of lung, bladder, mouth, pharyngeal, pancreatic, kidney, stomach, laryngeal, and esophageal cancer. About ten million people in the U.S. have died from causes attributed to smoking and tobacco use (including heart disease, emphysema, and other respiratory diseases) since 1964. Two million of these deaths were the result of lung cancer alone. Tobacco is the most global cause of cancer, and it is preventable. Despite widespread knowledge of the risk that tobacco exposure and use poses, it is single-handedly responsible for wide spread disease, rampant drug addiction, an alarming death rate, substantial economic burden and reduction of the quality of life worldwide.

2. Bad Breath

Smoking or chewing tobacco-based products also can cause bad breath, stain teeth, reduce your ability to taste foods, and irritate your gums.

3. Increased Buildup of Plaque/Tartar and Cavities

Smoking makes plaque stickier, which causes increased plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth. This plaque and tartar buildup will also increases the likely-hood of developing cavities.

4. Gum Disease

In a person with gum disease, or periodontitis, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These pockets between teeth and gums collect debris and can become infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Smoking is a serious cause for developing gum disease. Smoking also limits the healing of a person who is being treated for gum disease. If gum disease is left untreated, bone loss is absolute. And if bone loss continues, tooth loss will be inevitable. Which leads us to #5...

5. Tooth Loss

As stated above, tooth loss is a common by product of gum disease because of the bone loss associated with the disease.

6. Increased Risk of Leukoplakia

Leukoplakia is a white or gray patch that develops on the tongue, the inside of the cheek, or on the floor of the mouth. It is the mouth's reaction to chronic irritation of the mucous membranes of the mouth. More common than not, Leukoplakia is harmless. However, sometimes it can be a sign of oral cancer.

7. Loss of Jaw Bone

The jawbone can lose density and begin to recede from the tooth roots if smoking is habitual.

Our goal is not to offend anyone who smokes, but we think our patients deserve to know the dangers of smoking and what all it can do to their oral health. If you are trying to quit using tobacco and need help, please visit

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