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Smoking and Dental Problems

Dental Problems Associated with Tobacco Use


Updated: November 14, 2007

Photo by Cezar Perelles
Photo by Cezar Perelles
Most of us know that smoking is bad for our health, but did you know that smoking is also a major contributor to many dental problems? Cigarettes aren't the only products only to blame. All forms of tobacco, including cigars, smokeless tobacco and hookah water pipes, pose dental health concerns.

Dental Problems Associated with Tobacco Use

Tobacco use...

  • greatly increases the risk for oral cancer, a disease that progresses rapidly and can be deadly if not diagnosed and treated early.

  • increases the risk of gum disease, which is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults.

  • (smoking in particular) can slow down healing after oral surgery procedures, such as having a tooth pulled.

  • can damage gum tissue and cause receding gums, leaving the roots of the teeth exposed. This could increase the risk of tooth decay and cause hot/cold sensitivity.

  • can cause bad breath.

  • causes stains on teeth that can't be removed with regular brushing.

  • can cause a build up of tartar, which could require you to get more frequent dental cleanings.

Cigarettes and Cigars

Cigarettes and cigars contain several toxins associated with cancer. Not inhaling does not decrease your risk for dental problems.

Smokeless Tobacco

Did you know that more nicotine is found in dip and chew than cigarettes? Smokeless tobacco products also contain the harmful toxins associated with cancer. According to the American Dental Association, “at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in smokeless tobacco products.”

Hookah Water Pipes

Hookah water pipe smoking has become popular in some areas lately. Unfortunately, the water in the pipes does not filter out all of the harmful toxins.

How to Quit

Quitting smoking and / or other forms of tobacco right now can provide long term health benefits. If you would like to quit but don't know how, talk to your physician about how he or she can help. In addition, Terry Martin, our Guide to Smoking Cessation, offers some very helpful tips and information to help you quit smoking right here on About.com.


American Dental Association. Smoking (Tobacco) Cessation 12 July 2007.

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