Most people know that smoking increases the risk of lung problems, but many overlook its impact on oral health. Smoking causes a variety of oral health problems. Here are a few of the most common.

1. Dental Staining

Even if you brush and floss every day, your teeth are likely to take on a yellow or brown shade if you smoke. The tar in cigarette smoke sticks to teeth and causes this change in colour. Although professional whitening treatments can remove tar and restore a whiter tone to your teeth, stains quickly return if you continue to use tobacco. Whitening toothpaste can help to an extent, but the best solution is to get help to stop smoking.

2. Bad Breath

You might think that using mouthwash or chewing mint-flavoured gum can disguise the smell of smoke on your breath, but other people can still tell that you smoke. The chemicals in cigarette smoke have a very strong and persistent smell that sticks around no matter how much you try to cover it up.

3. Dry Mouth

Smoking negatively affects saliva production, which means that it can lead to dry mouth. Not being able to produce enough saliva to keep the mouth moist causes discomfort and sometimes even leads to ulcers forming on the insides of the lips or cheeks. Sipping water throughout the day can help, but many smokers find that they cannot prevent their mouth from getting painfully dry at night.

4. Gum Disease

Saliva doesn't just keep your mouth comfortable. It also performs an important role in keeping levels of oral bacteria in check. When your mouth is chronically dry due to smoking, bacteria can multiply and infect the gums, leading to gum disease.

Smoking also negatively affects the blood supply to the gums, reducing their ability to recover from an infection. If you notice signs of gum disease, such as gums that hurt or bleed when you brush them, you need to stop smoking and see a dentist as soon as possible.

5. Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a potentially fatal oral health condition that is strongly linked to smoking. Look out for ulcers, lumps or red patches on the tongue, which are the early signs of this disease. With early diagnosis and treatment, it is possible to recover from oral cancer. However, it is much better to avoid developing this disease in the first place. Stopping smoking can massively decrease your risk.

For more information, contact your dentist.