The Hard Truth About Smoking
Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke attacks living tissues wherever it travels – mouth, tongue,throat, esophagus, air passages, lungs, stomach. Eventually, nicotine and tobacco by-products reach the bladder, pancreas and kidneys.
Smokers therefore have a higher risk of developing many
life-threatening health conditions including heart disease, chronic lung disease, stroke, and cancers of the lung, mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder and pancreas. Pregnant women can have premature birth and low weight babies.
The Effects of Smoking on Oral Health
Smokers can expect to develop some combination
of the following, depending on the amount and
length of time they have smoked:
• Persistent bad breath
• Discoloured teeth
• An increase in calculus (tartar) build-up
• Periodontal (gum and bone) disease thatmay progress more quickly and be more severe than in non-smokers
• Jaw bone loss
• Shifting teeth
• An increased number of missing teeth
• Oral cancers
• Mouth sores
• Root caries (cavities)
• Hairy tongue
• Smoker’s lip (like a burn)
• Altered sense of taste and smell
• Delayed wound healing
As prevention professionals, dental hygienists are concerned about the effects of smoking on both
oral (dental) and overall health. As part of your assessment, your oral health
professional will ask you a series of lifestyle related questions, including whether you are a smoker, and if so, how long you have been
smoking. Dental hygienists are trained to advise you on the hazards of tobacco use, to show you
the effects of smoking on the mouth, and to encourage and support your decision to stop
While the effects of smoking on your lungs, heart and other organs are not visible to the naked eye,
your dental hygienist can easily see the evidence in your mouth.
More info: College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario
Acknowledgements: Beverley Kassirer-Shniffer, RDH, BScD.