How Smoking Impacts Our Oral Health

dental office in Edmond, OK

You don’t need to work in a dental office in Edmond, OK to know that smoking ranks as the most destructive habit a patient can have that threatens both their oral and overall health. Not only does smoking contribute to the development of cardiovascular and lung disease, but the habit also contributes to the development of chronic bad breath, tooth decay, plaque buildup, and gum disease.

Patients who spend years smoking also have a higher risk of permanent tooth loss, a problem usually treated with the placement of a dental implant. Unfortunately for smokers, the risk of implant failure greatly increases for patients who smoke. This makes smoking a habit that not only destroys your oral health but makes it far more difficult to receive the right kind of care at our dental office in Edmond, OK.

On the positive, the cessation of smoking significantly lowers a patient’s risk for developing not only lung and oral cancers, but oral health problems like gingivitis, periodontitis, and permanent tooth loss.

If not yet convinced about the risk smoking presents to your oral health, here are some of the biggest effects smoking can have on your teeth and gums.

Tooth Decay

Research has shown that tobacco smoke contains around 7,000 different chemicals, including carbon monoxide, arsenic, cadmium, butane, acetic acid, acetone, lead, formaldehyde, tar, benzene, ammonia, and many more. Many of these toxic chemicals work to breakdown and destroy tooth enamel, making the teeth of smokers far more susceptible to the effects of decay. Others, such as carbon monoxide and arsenic, are deadly when ingested at a higher dose.

If a patient has a higher risk for tooth decay, the higher their risk for permanent tooth loss actually becomes. Once a patient loses a tooth, the teeth that neighbor the gap in a smile will start to move into the now open space. As teeth move to fill the void, a patient can start to develop a misaligned bite that can make eating painful.

As mentioned previously, many of the treatments we typically use to treat tooth loss – such as implants – at our dental office in Edmond, OK become less effective when a patient smokes.

Gum Disease

When combined with the irritation of gum tissue smoking causes, the chemicals found in tobacco can cause a degeneration of the bone structure and soft tissue that hold our teeth into position. Studies have also found that smoking impacts how the cells in gum tissue typically function. This interference increases a smoker’s risk for developing an oral infection like gum disease, while also impacting blood flow to the gums. A lack of proper blood flow makes it far more difficult for the body to repair the damage smoking causes to the gum tissue.

Tooth Discoloration

The tar and nicotine in cigarettes discolor the teeth of smokers more quickly than many patients may perceive. Smoking also creates an environment within the mouth that allows plaque to produce far more quickly when compared to nonsmokers. Not only does smoking encourage plaque growth, but the habit also makes plaque more resilient and more difficult to remove through daily brushing and flossing. When plaque builds upon the surface of our teeth, it hardens, becoming tartar, a yellowish substance that also works to discolor teeth and ruin the complexion of our smiles.

Oral Cancer

Every year in the U.S., oral cancer contributes to the deaths of over 13,000 people. When compared to other forms of cancer, oral has a far higher mortality rate than more common types of cancer, such as prostate and breast. One of the reasons why oral cancer has a much higher mortality rate is due to how late in the disease’s progression a patient typically receives a diagnosis.

Research has found a connection between cigarette smoking and tongue cancer. Symptoms that typically begin as small white bumps that continue to grow when left untreated continue to become worse, causing the patient to finally seek out treatment. Only then do they realize a far more serious problem has developed.

Fortunately, the majority of oral cancer can be easily treated when caught early on in their progression. But if a patient continues to smoke, the disease could spread to other parts of the body, including the lymphatic system.


Don’t allow smoking to ruin your oral health. Take the steps needed to cease this harmful habit. Your oral health will thank you.