Smoking & Oral Health

Posted on Dec 22, 2014 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Smokers already know they are taking health risks. However, many smokers are unaware of the negative oral health issues when it comes to tobacco use.

For example, research shows that smokers lose more teeth than nonsmokers. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, about 20 percent of people over age 65 who have never smoked are toothless, while over 41 percent of daily smokers over age 65 are toothless.

It’s no surprise to Periodontists that following periodontal treatment or any type of oral surgery (including implant placement), patients who smoke have longer healing times with less predictable treatment outcomes. Other oral problems include a heightened risk for oral cancer, bad breath, stained teeth, loss of taste, gum recession, mouth sores, tooth loss and deep wrinkling around the mouth.

As a smoker, you also have a far greater increase for periodontal disease. One reason is your increased susceptibility to calculus. This is the plaque that hardens on teeth and can only be removed through a professional cleaning.

When calculus is not removed, the bacteria it harbors can destroy gum tissue and cause gums to pull away from teeth. As a result, teeth look longer and are more vulnerable to bacteria. As bacteria growth develops into periodontal disease, sore pockets form between teeth and fill with bacteria, destroying tissues and supporting bone. Eventually, the teeth become loose and require removal.

Cigarette smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and diminishes your overall health. Nearly 50 percent of those who don’t quit smoking will die of smoking-related problems.

Quitting is not easy but the benefits are almost immediate. Your circulation improves, your blood pressure starts to return to normal and breathing becomes easier. You’ll also have a healthier mouth.

A new year is an ideal time to kick the habit. The American Cancer Society’s web site,, is an excellent resource for smokers who are trying to quit. Or, call us at (828) 274-9440 for more information.

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