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How Does Smoking Affect Oral Health?

Individuals who engage in smoking are at an increased risk of experiencing gum issues, tooth loss, and complications following dental extractions and oral surgeries. There is also an escalated possibility of developing oral cancer. Additionally, smokers have a higher probability of contracting infections and exhibit slower healing processes compared to non-smokers. It is imperative for individuals who smoke to visit their dentist regularly, preventing any possibly oral issues.

Smoking and Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a result of an infection, which destroys the bone that surrounds and supports teeth. It is also caused by food debris and bacteria, called dental plaque. If not properly cleaned, the plaque will harden, forming tartar and irritating the gums surrounding the teeth. The risk for periodontal disease is much higher in individuals who smoke, even higher for those who smoke heavily. As gum disease is usually detected in non-smokers, this may not be the case for smokers as tobacco causes poor blood supply, prohibiting warning signs of the disease from appearing. Signs of periodontal disease include red or bleeding gums, discharge from gums, bad breath or taste, loose teeth, and gaps forming between your teeth. Luckily, quitting the habit will decrease one’s chances of obtaining this disease.

Smoking and Oral Cancer

Smoking is one of the main risk factors of oral cancer. Cancer of the mouth typically forms in areas such as the tongue, cheek, roof or floor of the mouth and lips. For those who smoke, oral cancer is more likely to appear on the side of the tongue, floor of mouth, and lips. Nicotine and other poisonous toxins that appear in tobacco products are carcinogenic, meaning they can change the cells within the mouth, leading to the development of oral cancer. Overtime, those who quit smoking will have the same risk of developing this disease as non-smokers.

Smoking and Prolonged Healing

The immune system struggles to fight off infection as a result of tobacco consumption. Nicotine causes blood vessels to tighten and narrow, limiting the blood flow to areas of the body. Due to this, there is an extended recovery period for those who have undergone dental procedures, or who have had other injuries in the area. Smoking can lead to numerous dental procedure complications, including increased pain, decreased success of dental implants, and dry socket.


If an individual consumes tobacco products, they must put extra effort into preventing tooth and gum issues. If one has trouble quitting the habit entirely, even lowering the rate of consumption will enhance the health and longevity of your teeth. Using a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning your teeth and gums twice a day, and flossing once a day will assist in the prevention of oral issues. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day and chewing sugar-free gum will encourage the flow of saliva, preventing a dry mouth. Most importantly, be sure to visit your dentist every 6 to 12 months, as regular check-ups can ensure proper oral health.

Reach Out to AC Dental Today!

We at AC Dental are here to help in any way we can! From bi-annual cleanings to oral cancer screenings, we are dedicated to providing you with the utmost comprehensive and compassionate dental care possible. Schedule your appointment with us by calling (732) 254-9000 today!

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