How to Prevent Smoking’s Harmful Effects on Oral Health


More often than not, smoking is associated with harming a person’s respiratory and cardiovascular health. It damages the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing and diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Meanwhile, smoking contributes to plaque formation in the blood vessels, resulting in heart conditions like coronary heart disease.

Smoking also has a significant impact on oral health. A tobacco use study from Jama Network Open observed that a group of regular tobacco users experienced gum diseases or oral lesions like mouth sores or ulcers within 12 months. Yet smoking can also cause oral issues far greater than gum issues or mouth sores. If you’re a smoker and want to improve your oral health, here’s more on smoking’s effects and how to prevent them.

The Harmful Effects of Smoking on Oral Health

Teeth Stains

The tar in cigarettes can cause the yellowing or slight browning of the teeth. It’s produced when you light a cigarette and can transfer to your mouth as you inhale. Prolonged exposure to this tar causes dental plaque buildup, resulting in yellow or brownish teeth. The stains can decrease self-confidence, and the bacteria in dental plaque buildup can cause your teeth to deteriorate. In the long run, this can lead to tooth decay or loss.


Periodontitis is a severe gum infection characterized by tender, swollen, or bleeding gums. It destroys your gums’ soft tissues and the bones that support your teeth, causing pain. A periodontal tissue study from the International Dental Journal found that smoking increases the risk of periodontitis by 85%. The dangerous chemicals in cigarettes—like tar and carbon monoxide—promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the mouth. As a result, periodontitis develops and, in the worst cases, can cause bone loss or lead to your teeth falling out.

Mouth Cancer

Mouth cancer encompasses various oral cavity cancers, such as oropharyngeal cancer, hypopharyngeal cancer, and lymphoma. The National Cancer Institute reveals that tobacco use is one of the leading causes of these types of cancer, with the risk of development up to 5 to 10 times higher for smokers than those who never smoked. Mouth cancers spread quickly and can take up to 5 years to treat. If left undetected and untreated, it can cause fatalities.

How to Prevent Smoking’s Harmful Effects on Oral Health

Avoid your smoking triggers

In our article ‘Top 7 New Year’s Resolutions,’ we note that getting rid of a smoking habit is hard work, but it’s not impossible. One such way to do so is to avoid your smoking triggers. These are situations or activities that prompt you to smoke, including social events, seeing other people smoking, or stress from work or your personal life.

When beginning your quitting journey, refrain from putting yourself in such situations. If stress is a trigger, find other stress-relief activities, like exercising or journaling. Should your trigger be seeing other smokers, refrain from being near smoking areas. Doing so manages your cigarette cravings, aiding your efforts to quit.

Switch to alternative nicotine products

Alternative nicotine products are non-tobacco products—such as nicotine pouches and gum—that provide nicotine through chewing, inhaling, or other means. Nicotine pouches are placed between the lip and gum containing nicotine and sweeteners, among other ingredients. ZYN nicotine pouches are available to buy online and they contain no tobacco, thanks to a high-tech distillation procedure that derives nicotine from the tobacco plant. Unlike other brands, these pouches are also completely white inside and out, helping you avoid both teeth staining and the harmful effects of cigarette smoke and tar discussed above. Finally, they’re available in different flavors, including mint and coffee, and two nicotine strengths—3mg and 6mg—to help you quit smoking gradually.

On the other hand, you can use nicotine gum just like regular gum: bite down on it slowly and chew until a tingling sensation occurs. The Nicotine Polacrilex Gum made by Perrigo is among the top brands today thanks to its wide range of flavors, ranging from the traditional mint to more unique ones like cherry ice. Like the pouch, it provides nicotine without the effects caused by tobacco or cigarette smoke—and it comes in 2mg and 4mg variants to help sustain your cessation journey.

Get regular dental check-ups

Regular dental check-ups involve examining the teeth, mouth, and gums. These procedures help your dentist determine whether you’re at risk for or are already developing certain oral diseases. By getting checked, you’ll get treated early for any oral issues, helping you avoid them entirely or at least prevent existing conditions from worsening. Ensure you visit your dentist at least once a year—if not twice. You may also ask them for any treatment or procedures you can try to solve teeth discoloration or decay due to smoking.
Smoking has a lot of harmful effects on oral health. With these tips, you can preserve your oral health and keep your overall well-being in check.

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