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Oral Health and Tobacco Use

Oral Health and Tobacco Use

How does tobacco use affect oral health?

All forms of tobacco raises your risk for oral health problems - smoking cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, and using smokeless tobacco products.

Using tobacco can cause the following:

  • Bad breath
  • Stained teeth and tongue
  • Dulled sense of taste and smell
  • Slow healing after a tooth extraction or other oral surgery
  • Increased buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth
  • Increased loss of bone within the jaw
  • Gum disease
  • Increased risk of leukoplakia - white or gray patches inside the mouth that can lead to cancer
  • Oral cancer
  • Esophageal cancer (the passage that connects the throat to the stomach)
  • Pancreatic cancer (a gland that helps with digestion and maintaining proper blood sugar levels)

Smokers have twice the risk for gum disease compared with a nonsmoker. The longer you smoke and the more cigarettes you smoke, the greater the risk for gum disease.

Tobacco can also have an effect on the health of your whole body, including:

  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Lung cancer and Emphysema
  • Cancers in all organs of the body
  • Fertility and pregnancy-related issues
  • Cataracts
  • Pneumonia
  • Osteoporosis

What can I do about oral health problems created by tobacco use?

If you smoke or use other tobacco products, the most important thing you can do for your oral health and for the health of your entire body is to quit.

Do you need help quitting tobacco?

NDQuits offers free assistance to help people quit using tobacco products. Call 1.800.QUIT.NOW for free coaching, online support, and tobacco cessation products to help you quit.

Information sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

North Dakota Department of Health