How smoking affects the mouth
It is well known that tobacco smoking is associated with many negative health effects. It can also affect the mouth, gums and teeth in many ways. The tobacco and nicotine in cigarettes can cause the teeth to become stained and yellow and cause bad breath. Smoking can also affect your ability to taste foods and drinks.
Smoking is associated with an approximately 80 percent increased risk of developing severe gum disease, known as periodontitis, bone loss and other periodontal diseases compared to people who do not smoke.
Tobacco smoking can increase your risk of developing severe gum disease called periodontitis. This results in loss of the supporting bone structures around the teeth and can cause teeth to drift and become loose. Without treatment, the damaged teeth may fall out or need to be removed. Early signs of gum disease like bleeding gums (gingivitis, or inflamed gums) are harder to pick up - both by individuals and dentists, due to the reduced blood supply to the gums.
Smoking can cause wounds or lesions inside the mouth to heal slowly. This is also due to the decreased blood flow to the gums. After oral surgery, such as a tooth extraction, smoking can increase the risk of a dry socket developing. A dry socket is where the extraction socket stops healing properly. This can be a very painful condition. It is important to avoid smoking for as long as possible after having a tooth removed.
Saliva is an important factor in protecting our teeth. Smoking can affect how much saliva your body makes. A decrease in the amount of saliva or saliva that is thick and frothy instead of thin and runny, means your teeth are less protected.
Oral cancer is two times more likely to develop in people who use tobacco compared to those who do not. This includes tobacco that is smoked and chewed. Drinking alcohol and smoking at the same time can increase your risk of oral cancer even more than each alone. Tobacco use and alcohol consumption cause about 75% of oral cancers. Once you quit using tobacco, your risk of developing oral cancer will start to decrease.