Tobacco Use & How It Affects Your Oral Health

And the 2 biggest risks cigarettes & other tobacco products pose to your oral health


Tobacco Use

Do you smoke or chew tobacco? You’re leaving yourself open to two huge threats to your oral health: oral cancer and periodontal (gum) disease, a leading cause of tooth loss.


Oral cancer is a serious killer

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention point to tobacco as the main factor in oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer (OCP), the eighth most common type of cancer in the United States.1

  • More than 30,000 new cases of OCP are diagnosed each year2
  • Over 8,000 deaths due to oral cancer occur each year2
  • The 5-year survival rate for OCP is only about 50%2

The worst part? Oral cancer is hard to detect early. So it’s estimated that two-thirds of these cases are diagnosed in late stages.1


How does this happen?

Smoking disrupts the normal function of gum-tissue cells. It weakens bone and soft-tissue attachments to your teeth. When this happens, smokers are prone to infections like gum disease and poor blood flow to the gums, which can slow healing in the mouth.


Tips to quit smoking

If you haven’t started smoking or chewing, don’t start. Already smoking and finding it tough to quit? Try this:

  • Talk to your doctor—Your doctor will be thrilled you want to quit and can recommend a smoking cessation or “quit-smoking” plan for you.
  • Talk to a counselor—He/she may be able to help you find underlying causes of your smoking.
  • Find a support group—Many community centers sponsor support groups for people who need a little extra push to kick the habit.


Get more expert oral health advice:

How soft drinks make your oral health fizzle

Be aware: Don’t miss the signs of oral cancer


1. Tobacco-Related Cancers Decrease, American Dental Association, 09/08.  2. Cancer of the Oral Cavity and Pharynx, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 01/08. 3. Tobacco Use and Periodontal Disease, American Academy of Periodontology, 07/10. 4. Periodontal Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12/09. 5. Types of Gum Disease, American Academy of Periodontology, 07/10. 6. Smoking (Tobacco) Cessation, American Dental Association, 07/10.

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