How Exactly Does Tobacco Harm Your Smile?


It’s well-known that tobacco products are harmful to your smile, including chewing tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, and even natural tobacco. Tobacco has been linked to a myriad of other health issues in the body as well, including cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

How exactly does tobacco harm your oral health? Here we cover some of the biggest and most lasting impacts that using any type of tobacco product can have on your beautiful smile.

Tobacco Causes Oral Cancer

All types of tobacco have been linked to cancer, including oral cancer. Oral cancer includes cancers of mouth, tongue, throat, neck, and even certain parts of the face. Tobacco is the leading cause of cancer and death from cancer, including oral cancer [1].

In fact, people who use tobacco products—cigar smokers in particular—are up to 10 times more likely to die from oral cancer, including esophageal cancer (cancer of the esophagus, or the tube that connects your throat and your stomach) and laryngeal cancer (cancer of the larynx, which forms part of the throat and the vocal cords) [2].

Smoking and Chewing Tobacco Stain Your Smile

It’s no secret that smoking and chewing tobacco have a negative effect on the appearance of your smile [3]. People who use tobacco tend to have a yellowish or brownish hue to their teeth, which can get worse over time, especially with regular use.

These stains can be difficult to remove, even after you’ve stopped using tobacco products. You may have the option of getting a professional teeth whitening, but for some people, these stains won’t come out or will only lighten to a certain degree.

Increased Risk of Gum Disease

Smoking and tobacco use also increases your risk for gum disease [4]. Tobacco products contain nicotine, which is addictive, and nicotine affects the oral cavity by decreasing blood flow to the gum tissue.

Since nicotine inhibits blood flow in the oral cavity, it actually works to mask symptoms of gum disease. Many people who smoke or otherwise use tobacco have gum disease and experience minimal or no symptoms, leading them to think everything is fine while gum disease is discreetly advancing. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the United States and can dramatically impact your smile if left untreated [5]!

Do You Smoke or Use Tobacco?

If you use tobacco products (remember, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine!), it’s time to reconsider your use. There are more options than ever today to help you quit—including nicotine gum, patches, and even medications you can take. Talk to your doctor or dentist today to get started with kicking your tobacco habit to the curb!


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