Smoking – How it Affects Your Oral Health

2 min


Smoking is a practice of breathing the smoke from the brunt dried tobacco leaves. It is prevailing in most of the developing countries with billions of people smoking their precious life out each day.

In a survey conducted in India, the incidence of smokers is found to be higher in the northeastern parts of India.

The prevalence of smokers directly falls on the following like sex, age group, urban/rural culture & education. People belonging to urban cities showed a range of increased smokers than in rural areas.

Individuals above 40 years are more susceptible to smokers than below the age of 30 years. Males showed higher incidence rates than females. 46% of uneducated individuals less than 6 years of schooling showed increased incidence than individuals with 10th std pass or above.

This habit prevails as a reason for various oral diseases from simple gum disease to deadly cancers in the mouth which may turn into a serious threat to life.


The tobacco leaves are composed of an active alkaloid which when it is burnt is called the nicotine. This habit has the following effects on our mouth when practiced frequently / on a daily basis.

  • Stained teeth: The tar and nicotine released as a result of smoking discolor the teeth into a mild yellow color initially. When practiced the habit for long term frequently a brown deposit forms around the neck of the teeth.
  • Bad Breath / Halitosis: The nicotine present in the tobacco is a vasoconstrictor leading to the reduced blood supply to the oral cavity. This causes the dryness of the mouth with increased bacterial accumulation and plaque formation. The dryness serves as a platform for the bacteria to breakdown the acids and releases sulfur which is responsible for the bad-odor.
  • Periodontal disease: The reduced blood supply to the gums causes plaque build-up and bacterial accumulation in the gums. Long- term smokers exhibit a weakened and swollen gum that bleeds on brushing (gingivitis). Untreated inflamed gums attract bacterial accumulation and activity that causes the loss of bone surrounding the teeth exposing the root (Periodontitis). Nicotine alters the functions of the periodontal pathogens and promotes the biofilm formation, colonization of the bacteria and infection.
  • Loss of Taste: Profuse smoking causes structural changes in the fungiform papillae of the tongue leading to loss of taste sensation. The heat ingested while smoking damages the cells with the taste buds resulting in the loss of taste. Rarely smokers feel the loss of smell sensation also.
  • Delayed healing: the vasoconstrictor action of nicotine reduces the blood supply to the oral cavity resulting in less supply and delayed healing.
  • Increased risk for oral cancer: Prolonged smokers are at a greater risk for lung, throat and mouth cancers. Burning sensation of the mouth is the first sign for oral cancer mostly being ignored. Cancer exhibits proliferative, erosive and long-standing ulcers in the mouth that are painful. Progression of the above signs should be noted. Association of smoking with alcohol consumption for a prolonged period leads us to a greater risk. 90% reported cases of oral cancer are associated with the use of tobacco or its products.

Benefits of Giving up Smoking:

  • Free from bad-breath.
  • Restoration of your healthy gums and unstained teeth.
  • Free from various diseases that pose as a serious threat to life.
  • Improvement in sense of taste and smell
  • Improvement in general health and social life.
  • Reduces the risk for others. (passive smokers)


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Dr Arun

Dr. Arun is a practicing dentist with more than 11 years of experience. Loves to blog and in constant search of new knowledge in dentistry and health niche.


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