Ask a Dentist

June 17, 2022

Q: How Does Smoking Affect Your Dental Health?

Broken and whole cigarettes on black table, closeup. Quitting smoking concept

It’s no secret how harmful smoking is for your health. But when many people think of the health effects of smoking, they often think of lung cancer or other respiratory diseases. However, smoking also can cause a lot of harm to your dental health.

Smoking Facts

Smoking cigarettes puts you at a higher risk for many health concerns, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases and cancer. In Canada, smoking causes about 48,000 deaths each year, according to the Canadian Lung Association

Smoking is also the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Canada, and about 15 per cent of Canadians currently smoke.

Smoking and Dental Health

Smoking increases the risk of several dental problems such as gum disease, oral cancer and leukoplakia (white or grey patches on the inside of your mouth).

Gum Disease

Smokers carry twice the risk of developing gum disease compared to non-smokers. The longer and the more you smoke, the greater the risk.

Gum disease starts as bacteria that builds up on teeth, called plaque. If plaque isn’t removed, it hardens into tartar, which forms above and below the gumline. As bacteria builds up, you may develop early gum disease, known as gingivitis, which can eventually develop into severe gum disease. As the disease worsens, the gum line recedes. This can lead to tooth loss.

Oral Cancer

As with gum disease, the longer and more often you smoke the greater the risk for oral cancer. Oral cancer involves the gradual mutation of cells in your mouth. The mutation causes cells to grow and accumulate at an abnormal rate, causing tumours to form. These tumours may spread to other areas of the head or neck, or other other parts of your body.


Although the cause of leukoplakia is still unknown, doctors believe that smoking is one of the main factors that increase the risk of the condition’s development. You may notice them on your gums, beneath your tongue, on the inner lining of your cheeks and even on your tongue.

Bad Breath and Tooth Discolouration

Tar from cigarettes can stain your teeth and cause bad breath. Smoking can also affect your sense of taste and smell by diminishing it or causing you to lose it entirely.

How To Quit Smoking

Smoking can be a difficult habit to kick. But there are many actions you can take to help yourself stop smoking for good. Consider these tips below:

  • Avoid situations that trigger your cravings
  • Delay your cravings
  • Chew gum or have a healthy snack
  • Distract yourself with activities you enjoy when your craving kicks in
  • Tell people you know so they can offer support
  • Talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy
  • Remember the benefits of quitting smoking
  • Pick a ‘quit day’ and stick to it

Quitting smoking is one of the most important actions you can take to improve your health, including your oral health. Give your teeth a fresh start! Book a cleaning with us today to help reduce the risk of developing gum disease, bad breath and other oral health issues. Visit Dental Image Therapy Centres in Garden City Shopping Centre or St. Vital Centre today. We’re accepting new patients. 

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