Breaking The Habit: The Dental Damage Of Smoking Cigarettes And Tips To Quit

1 April 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


Brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist each year are imperative tasks for good oral health. While obvious to hear, many people do not brush and floss regularly or schedule dental exams. In addition, many unhealthy foods and everyday hobbies can wreak havoc on your smile. If you are one of the 42.1 million adults in the United States who smoke cigarettes, you most likely already know the consequences smoking has on your health. However, you may not fully understand the damage cigarettes can have on your oral health.

From staining your surface enamel to oral cancer, smoking cigarettes poses many concerns for your mouth, teeth, and gums. Using this guide, you will understand the dental dangers of smoking cigarettes and learn tips to help you quit the habit.

Tooth Discoloration

Nicotine and tar are key ingredients in cigarettes, no matter what your preferred brand. Unfortunately, these key ingredients are responsible for staining the surface enamel of your teeth. While colorless, nicotine appears yellow when it encounters oxygen molecules during smoking. This yellowish hue can quickly appear on your teeth and is difficult to remove over time.

Although not the same material used to pave roads, the tar inside cigarettes also affects your teeth. Many smokers experience a dark residue on their teeth due to this unnatural ingredient. Through professional whitening treatments, your cosmetic dentist can reverse and repair discolored teeth. However, you should quit smoking to prevent stains in the future.

Gum Disease

Smoking cigarettes also increases your risk of developing periodontal disease. Also known as gum disease, this bacterial infection is a result of plaque buildup on and around your teeth and gums. If left untreated, gum disease will destroy your gum tissue and weaken teeth.

Smokers with gum disease may experience the following symptoms:

  • Swollen, tender gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Receding gum tissue
  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Mouth sores

As a smoker, you may be one of the 53 percent of patients to suffer with gum disease. Once you quit the habit, your dentist may suggest antibiotics to treat the infection, a professional dental scaling to remove the heavy buildup of plaque, or possible surgery to repair the gum damage.

Oral Cancer

Nicotine and tar are common ingredients in various tobacco products, but acetone, arsenic, butane, lead, and methanol also appear in cigarettes, pipe tobacco, and chewing tobacco. These ingredients create a chemical reaction that you are willingly forcing into your body. You may think these chemicals affect the look of your smile only, but they can also be life threatening. An estimated 8 out of 10 patients diagnosed with oral cancer were smokers, so quitting your tobacco use is not only important for cosmetic reasons. To prevent an oral cancer diagnosis, it is best to stop smoking now.

Breaking The Habit

Using tobacco is an addiction that most people find challenging to quit. Fortunately, it is possible using these tips:

  • Plan – Choose a date to quit and mark your calendar. Remove all cigarettes and tobacco products from your home, vehicle, and workplace. Discuss your plan to quit with family, friends, and your doctor so they can offer you support. Planning helps you prepare yourself physically and emotionally.
  • Avoid – Many people smoke at specific times or while doing certain things. For the highest rate of success, avoid these situations. If you seem to smoke immediately after dinner, replace the act with exercise, a shower, or another fun activity.
  • Ease – You may experience unpleasant side effects, such as anxiety, while trying to quit. Visit your doctor to learn different methods to cope with the physical signs of stress. Counseling is a great option for talking through your emotions. Your doctor may also recommend a medication to ease the side effects.

Smoking cigarettes affects your underlying health and wellness, but it also detrimental to your smile. Thankfully, knowing the possible dental damage smoking poses, you can begin your journey to quit.