How do smoking and vaping affect your oral health?

If you smoke or know someone who does, you should pay attention. According to the American Dental Association, one-third of smokers in America have at least three dental health disorders, and 15 out of every 100 smoke. Many people are battling an addiction that is both tough to overcome and harmful to one's general and oral health. 

Similarly, in recent years, vaping devices, often electronic cigarettes, have grown in popularity. While these gadgets appear to be healthier than smoking at first glance, they carry many of the same dangers – and even a few new risks. 

According to Dr. Barbara Keber, chair of family medicine at Northwell Health's Glen Cove Hospital in New York said:

"Most teens or young adults who use e-cigarettes or e-nicotine instead of smoking are equally at dental health risks as to those who smoke cigarettes." 

Whether a casual smoker or a pack-a-day smoker, you should be aware of the harmful effects of smoking on your body, particularly your mouth. Therefore, vaping devices, whether Juul or other, are not beneficial for dental health. Here are the facts about smoking, what it causes to your dental health, and what you can do about it. 


Effects of smoking on your oral health 

The following are the most common oral health issues experienced by smokers: 

  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Cancer of the mouth
  • Poor recovery after tooth extraction (known as a dry socket)
  • Teeth decay 
  • Poor recovery following oral and gum surgery
  • Bad breath and taste in the mouth (called halitosis)


Smoking and gum disease 

Gum disease (periodontitis) is caused by an infection that damages the bone surrounding and supporting your teeth. This bone connects the teeth to the jawbone to chew food. Gum disease can be caused by smoking. 

Smoking and gum disease

Bacteria and food debris, known as dental plaque, cause gum disease, but if you smoke, your chances of developing gum disease are double. Plaque, if left on the teeth and gums, develops into calculus or tartar. Plaque and calculus irritate the gums surrounding the teeth. 

Gingivitis and periodontitis are the two phases of gum disease. Periodontitis can harm the structures that support the tooth to the gum if it is not addressed. Teeth may grow loose, fall out on their own, or require removal by a dentist. 

If you smoke, the following things may happen to your gums: 

  • Tooth loss (of some or all your natural teeth) makes it difficult to eat certain foods, speak correctly, or smile confidently if missing teeth are not replaced. 
  • Gum disease can be more challenging to detect. Because tobacco causes the insufficient blood supply to the gums, bleeding gums, which is usually an indicator of gum disease, may not be present. 
  • Smokers are more likely to develop acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, a severe condition with a foul stench and taste. 

If you smoke, you must visit your dentist for frequent checkups. Gum disease symptoms to look out for include: 

  • Gums that are red, swollen, sensitive, and bleeding. 
  • A discharge (pus) from your gums. 
  • Loose gums that slide away from your teeth 
  • A foul taste or smell. 
  • Gaps in your teeth 
  • Loose teeth 


Oral cancer and smoking 

Oral cancer affects the mouth, including the tongue, cheek, roof, or floor of the mouth and lips. Smoking is a significant risk factor for mouth cancer. 

People who smoke and drink alcohol are more likely to get mouth cancer than those who do one or the other. Those who quit smoking have the same chance of acquiring mouth cancer as nonsmokers. Thus, it is never too late to quit smoking. 

Furthermore, smokers are more prone to develop mouth cancer on the side of the tongue, the floor of the mouth, and the lips.

According to statistics from the American Cancer Society: 

  • Tobacco is used by almost 90% of people who acquire cancer of the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat. Moreover, smokers are six times more likely to get these cancers than nonsmokers. 
  • Approximately 37% of patients who continue to smoke after their cancer appears to be cured will get second cancer of the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat, compared to only 6% of those who cease smoking.

Symptoms of oral cancer include: 

  • Persistent ulcer in your mouth or lip that does not go away after 7 to 10 days, especially if it is not painful. 
  • You have a white or crimson patch in your mouth. 
  • Swollen mouth 
  • Dentures are no longer fitting properly. 


Vaping and oral health 

Smoking e-cigarettes or water pipes (also known as vaping) may appear less dangerous than smoking traditional cigarettes. However, this may not be the case for your oral health. 

vaping affect your oral health

When you vape, you inhale e-liquids (also known as vaping juice), which might include dangerous compounds even though they are labeled "nicotine-free." If the vaping device contains nicotine, the danger of creating difficulties in your mouth is substantially more severe. 

The long-term implications of vaping are not entirely known. However, some evidence is that vaping might induce mouth inflammation, leading to gum disease and other oral health issues. Some people may experience a temporary lack of taste (also known as vape tongue) 

Vaping may be viewed as a means of quitting smoking. However, vaping may make it more challenging to quit smoking entirely, increasing the risk of tobacco-related disorders like oral cancer. 


Keeping smokers' teeth and gums healthy

If you smoke, there are several things you may take to avoid tooth and gum problems, such as: 

  • To quit smoking, consult your doctor or dentist for advice and support. 
  • If you're having trouble quitting smoking, consider cutting back on the number of cigarettes you smoke at first. 
  • Brush your teeth regularly using fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between your teeth with dental floss (for minor gaps) or interdental brushes (for significant gaps). 
  • You should see your dentist every 6 to 12 months. Regular checkups can aid in the health of your teeth and gums. They can advise you on properly caring for your teeth and gums at home and detect problems early. 
  • Try not to have a dry mouth. To promote saliva flow, drink plenty of water and chew sugar-free gum. 
  • Limit alcohol consumption and avoid recreational drugs. 



Hence, take good care of your teeth and gums if you want them to last a lifetime. Quit smoking and see your dentist for advice, tips, and guidance on how to care for your teeth in the future.

Contact your Lafayette dentist, Dr. Massood Darvishzadeh, DDS at Lafayette Dental Group, to learn how smoking and vaping affect oral health.


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*This media/content or any other on this website does not prescribe, recommend, or prevent any treatment or procedure. Therefore, we highly recommend that you get the advice of a qualified dentist or other medical practitioners regarding your specific dental condition*

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