Why Smoking is Bad for Oral Health


You know smoking is bad for your heart and lungs, but did you know it can also damage your teeth and gums? Smoking is one of the top factors in gum or periodontal disease today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smokers are twice as likely to develop gum disease as non-smokers. In addition to gum disease, there are a number of oral health issues that can arise from smoking.

What Smoking Can Do

There are a number of dental problems that can occur as a result of regular tobacco use:

• Bad breath

• Stained teeth

• Excess plaque and tartar buildup

• Decreased ability to taste

• Increase in bone loss

• Increased risk for oral cancer

In addition, smoking significantly increases your risk for gum disease, which can lead to a host of oral health and other health issues over time.

Smoking and Gum Disease

Gum disease is a serious problem that can lead to tooth loss and increase your risk for other health problems like stroke, heart disease, and respiratory disorders. Prompt treatment of gum disease is the best way to ward off more serious complications. Early signs of gum disease might include:

• Red, swollen gums that may be tender to the touch

• Gums that bleed easily during brushing

• Pain when chewing food

• Sensitive teeth

• Gums that have pulled away from teeth

• Teeth that have become loose or a bite that has changed

Gum disease left unchecked can lead to tooth loss. Unfortunately, smoking can not only accelerate the rate at which gum disease advances; it can also interfere with treatments designed to stop gum disease in its tracks.

Interfering with Treatment

Smokers seeking treatment for periodontal disease may not have the same positive results from their treatments as non-smokers. This is because nicotine in tobacco prevents your body from healing properly by decreasing blood flow to the treatment area. Smoking also affects how your gums respond to treatment.

Studies involving treatment of gum disease for smokers have not yielded positive results. One study found that smokers were twice as likely to lose teeth in the five years following periodontal treatment. Other studies have shown smokers simply don’t respond as well to periodontal treatment as non-smokers. In addition, procedures to save or replace teeth (such as dental implants) also do not work as well for smokers, in part due to the bone loss and decreased ability of the gums to heal effectively.

Short-Term Cosmetic Improvements

You may try to disguise the signs of smoking through cosmetic dental treatments. However, while veneers or other procedures to whiten your teeth and brighten your smile may have positive effects in the short term, those effects are not likely to last if you continue to smoke. Veneers will quickly discolor, crowns and bridges can become damaged and implants can fail. The only way to ensure long-lasting benefits from these procedures is to kick the smoking habit before undergoing cosmetic treatments.

Restoring Your Smile

If you are a former smoker that would like to restore your smile, the good news is there are plenty of options to help you do just that today. At La Jolla Cosmetic Dentistry & Orthodontics, we have a wide variety of procedures to whiten, straighten and even out your teeth that offer excellent, long-term results. Contact our office today at 858-295-0603 to find out how we can help you achieve a brighter, whiter smile.