Tobacco use and smoking can cause problems for your teeth, from discoloration and staining to cancer.

woman stopping smoking to save her teeth

Have you seen someone walking down a sidewalk with yellow teeth, lips, and even a yellow tongue? These are all evidence of a heavy smoker. But it is what lies behind the color, that a tobacco user should be even more wary of.

Research has shown repeatedly that any tobacco use can lead to serious oral health issues. From gum disease to oral cancer, tobacco is often involved. The American Cancer Society has estimated that 90% of people with oral cancer have used tobacco in some form. They also say that smokers and tobacco users are 6 times more likely to get some form of oral cancer than non-tobacco users.

An even scarier number is the 40-50 % death rate among people who are diagnosed with mouth cancer. Are you really willing to take those chances?

Some people think that some forms of tobacco are safe compared to others. This is not true. All tobacco use is harmful to your health.

Pipe smokers, although they generally use tobacco less often, are more likely to get cancer of the lips. Chewing tobacco users are 4 to 6 times more likely to get some form of oral cancer. They are also at higher risk of tooth decay, due partially to the sweeteners added to tobacco.

Of course, smoking puts the lungs and throat all at risk for cancer.

So, what can a tobacco user do to help protect themselves?

#1. Quit.

I know you know. And I know you have probably tried. Keep trying and you can do it just like millions have before you. Just know the sooner you quit, the lower your risk for oral cancer. Research shows that after 10 years free from tobacco, the risk from periodontal disease is not much different then if you had never used tobacco!

#2. Get regular checkups.

Early detection of oral cancers, teeth issues and gum disease can greatly improve the outcome. See your dentist as often as you can.

#3. Keep your mouth and teeth clean.

Start with proper brushing. Good brushes, good technique, good habits, and flossing all make a difference. Heat and carcinogens from cigarettes and tobacco are very harmful to teeth and gums. Take extra care of your teeth and gums.

#4. Can’t quit? Cut back.

Everyone understands how addictive tobacco is for millions of people. Talk to your dentist or doctor if you truly want to cut back or quit, and ask for help.

In the meantime, continually remind yourself what tobacco use does to your teeth!
Dr. Abeyta’s dental hygienist offers a comprehensive approach to preventative care. Prevention is the core of good dental and periodontal health. Some of our hygiene procedures include regular oral examinations, cleaning and fluoride treatments, ultrasonic teeth cleaning, sealants, oral cancer screenings, and periodontal scaling and root planing.