Home | Mouth 101 | Prevention and hygiene | Smoking and oral health

Smoking and oral health

People are more aware of the harmful impact of tobacco use on general health – respiratory disorders, heart disease, lung cancer – than its adverse effects on oral health.

Yet tobacco use is the primary cause of oral and pharyngeal cancer. Smokers are up to 20 times more exposed to the risk of this type of cancer than non-smokers, and the danger increases for regular drinkers.

Tobacco is also by far the main factor in the failure of implant therapy treatment. And that’s not to mention its effects on users’ appearance (yellowed teeth, black spots on teeth), taste, smell and breath.

Health professionals have an important role to play in discouraging tobacco use, and dentists are now stepping up their efforts by informing patients who smoke about the impact of smoking on oral health. They are also advising them on ways of quitting and the free resources available.

About 50% of cases

of periodontitis may be attributed to tobacco use. It also impairs the chance of successful treatment and the healing of oral wounds.

Benefits of quitting for oral health

The harmful impact of smoking on oral health can be seen much sooner than the impact of a disease affecting several organs, like heart disease.

  • After just 48 hours, an ex-smoker’s ability to taste and smell and his or her breath improves.
  • After 3 months, the oral mucosa is in better condition.
  • After 12 months, the gums are back to health.
  • After 5 to 10 years, the risk of oral cancer for an ex-smoker is comparable to that of a non-smoker.

Benefits of quitting for general health

After just 20 minutes

Blood pressure and heart rate return to normal.

After 8 hours

Carbon monoxide levels in the body decrease and the blood oxygen level increases.

After 24 hours

The risk of a heart attack begins to drop.

After 3 months

Blood circulation and pulmonary function improve.

After 9 months

There is a significant improvement in respiration (less coughing and sinus congestion). Fatigue and breathlessness decrease.

After 1 year

The risk of death from a coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker.

After 5 years

The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, or esophagus is reduced by half.

After 10 to 15 years

The risk of coronary heart disease is comparable to that of a non-smoker.

After 15 years

The mortality rate from lung cancer declines significantly.