From consuming too much alcohol to eating an excess amount of sugary foods, the number of habits that are bad for your health is overwhelming. While most people know the negative effects that smoking cigarettes has on your heart and lungs, these simple sticks of tobacco can also do enormous damage to your mouth, teeth, and gums. Unfortunately, most people do not really take into account the harm smoking has on your oral health. If you are part of the 36.5 million people in the United States that smoke cigarettes, use this guide on the real effects smoking has on your mouth, teeth, and gums.


Tooth discoloration is the most common way cigarettes affect the teeth, but you may not realize how this happens.

Nicotine and other chemicals found in cigarettes cling to the surface of the teeth, discoloring the teeth permanently over time. Even brushing as recommended will not remove these stains, since the nicotine is capable of seeping into the tooth enamel. As a result, even if you are a smoker who brushes regularly and utilizes whitening treatments, your teeth are most likely still off-white in color. If you have been smoking cigarettes for many years, your teeth will probably be closer to a shade of yellow or even brown in places.

Foul Breath

The smell of cigarette smoke is not pleasant for most people. However, the smell of a smoker's breath is also very unappealing. Of course, it is not just the smell of your breath that you should worry about, since the foul breath stems from a dry, bacteria-ridden mouth that is at risk of numerous oral health problems.

The chemicals found in cigarettes can wreak havoc on the inside of your mouth. You will experience a heavy buildup of plaque and tartar and a reduced amount of saliva. This dry mouth is an appealing environment for bacteria to grow.

Gum Disease

As they are staining the teeth, the chemicals in cigarettes will eventually wear down the surface enamel. Without a full layer of enamel, the underlying tooth pulp will lack important protection. Food particles, debris, and bacteria will build up on the tooth, resulting in heavy plaque and tartar buildup.

Over time, this buildup will spread through the mouth and gum tissue, causing cavities and gum disease. Without early intervention, gum disease can progress to a point where you will experience severe tooth decay and potentially the loss of one or more teeth.

Oral Cancer

Most cases of oral cancer are linked to smoking or another form of tobacco use. It is not known what specifically causes cancer, but the carcinogens found in cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other products that contain tobacco do play a large role in the development of cancer. Here are a few symptoms of oral cancer:

  • Sore gum tissue
  • Jaw discomfort
  • Irritations, lumps or patches in the mouth, lip, or throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty moving the tongue or jaw
  • Numbness in gum tissue or tongue
  • Swelling of the jaw

It is important to mention that these symptoms are not always related to oral cancer. If you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms without any improvement after a week or two, be sure to consult your dentist immediately.

You may feel you are not capable of breaking the habit of smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco, but help is available. With this guide, you will realize the effects that tobacco has on your mouth, teeth, and gums. To learn more about tips and tricks to help you succeed in your goal to quit, consult your doctor or dentist, and you can check out websites like to learn more about caring for your oral health.