How does tobacco affect Oral health?

Many times, we tend to think that the effects of tobacco on our Oral health are limited to simple staining of the teeth or the appearance of halitosis, but we could say that these are the mildest consequences; the real problem is what we don’t see.

If we take a look at the – statistics, we see that currently it is estimated that more than 55,000 Spaniards die each year as a result of tobacco and the age of onset of this habit is around 13 years, one of the lowest in the world. European Union

Good oral hygiene helps prevent disease, but it does not imply that we are immune to the effects of tobacco. The oral cavity is one of the locations where harmful effects are most clearly manifested since it constitutes the main entry channel, together with the respiratory tract, of smoke into our body. That is why we will talk in this post about the relationship between tobacco and oral health.

Tobacco and oral health

Tobacco, whether in industrial format, rolling tobacco or chewing tobacco, is highly detrimental to both our oral and general health. At the oral level, the most serious effect that occurs from tobacco use is to develop oral cancer, but we can talk about more health problems caused by smoking.

The only way to alleviate the negative effects of tobacco is to quit. The addictive effect of nicotine is very high, but there is no other solution. according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in Spain, 30.3% of the adult population is a regular smoker.

Effects of tobacco on Oral health

Teeth staining

The teeth of a smoker are yellow due to the nicotine and tar that are deposited on the tooth surface and that, in many cases, reaches the dentin tubules.


The harmful components that tobacco possesses generate halitosis or accentuate the one already suffered. In addition to the smell of tobacco, this enhances the dryness and irritation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and respiratory tract, so there is no proper oxygenation, and bad breath occurs.

Impaired sense of taste and smell

According to the American Dental Association, the action of tobacco limits the perception of flavors and odors, especially salty; This makes smokers tend to unconsciously abuse salt, which can lead to high blood pressure.

Increased risk of periodontitis

Not only does tobacco use cause three times the risk of periodontitis and that it progresses more quickly, but the diagnosis is often delayed much longer; This is because tobacco is a vasoconstrictor (reduces the blood supply to the gums) which causes a paler appearance and less swollen than they really are.

The low treatment success rate

Tobacco delays wound healing and also reduces blood flow to smokers’ gums; this makes them more prone to infection and significantly reduces tissue repair capacity, significantly delaying wound healing, both traumatic as well as surgical origin.

In addition, the failure rate of dental implants is twice as high among the smoking population due to greater difficulties for the implant to bond with the bone.

Propensity for cavities

Lighting a cigarette also influences the appearance of this type of injury since, among smokers, there is a greater number of cavities in the roots of the teeth since this habit causes the loss of its support and exposes the root. In turn, they present a decrease in salivary secretion, which leads to a lower neutralizing capacity of the plaque.

Oral cancer

Tobacco contains a high number of carcinogenic substances that, if it is also associated with alcohol, which further permeates the mucous membranes, the risk of suffering from oral cancer increases considerably. although the incidence of oral cancer in the population is not the highest (8 per 100,000 inhabitants), this pathology has a high rate because it is usually diagnosed in advanced stages.

Tips for your smoking patients

Taking into account the damage that tobacco consumption supposes for oral health, we can help our patients by advising them on a series of actions to try to reduce these effects with good oral health.

Proper brushing: It is essential to carry out a good brushing to reduce all the residues left by tobacco in the mouth. It is advisable to increase the – frequency of brushing, with a minimum of 3 times a day, and to do it after having smoked. The tongue also has to be the target of brushing since it is an area very affected by tobacco consumption, which is why there is a loss of the sense of taste.

Using a good mouthwash: A good mouthwash strengthens brushing and protects our enamel. In addition, mouthwash eliminates bad breath caused by tobacco.

Use of dental floss: For those areas that brushing does not reach, dental floss is a great ally to take care of dental health. It protects the gums, is very vulnerable to the effects of tobacco, and brings freshness to the mouth.

Finally, recommend that patients go to the dental clinic more regularly so that they can better monitor their dental health and do dental cleanings more often.