Oral Health and Smoking


The effect smoking has on your general health have long been known, but smoking is also the leading cause of oral cancer, which accounts for 3% of all cancers diagnosed in Australia. Mouth cancers are very difficult to diagnose in the early stages without radiographs and regular checkup appointments.

This can lead to oral cancer going unnoticed for some time. Oral cancer can develop in all areas of the mouth including the tongue, lips, salivary glands and throat as well as other areas in the neck and head.

In addition to tooth discoloration and constant bad breath, smoking causes irritation of the gums and significantly increases your susceptibility to periodontal disease and gingivitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums which become red swollen and bleed when brushing and flossing. When left untreated, gingivitis advances to periodontal disease, a degenerative condition of the gum and supportive bone. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss.

If you have missing teeth, smoking can affect your suitability for restorative treatment such as dental implants. This is because smoking reduces oxygen levels in the blood affecting the body’s ability to heal and ward off infection. Periodontal disease can cause a loss of jawbone volume making the jaw unable to support the implant and absorb the extreme biting and chewing forces placed on teeth while eating.

Many concerning oral health conditions can result from smoking including:

  • Increase in plaque and tartar build-up
  • Constant bad breath
  • Gingivitis and periodontal disease that may lead to tooth loss
  • An increased risk of tooth decay
  • High probability of being unsuitable for restorative treatment such as dental implants
  • Leukoplakia, a white, scaly patch of skin inside your mouth or on your lips
  • Cancerous and pre-cancerous lesions in your mouth that can be difficult to detect without regular radiographs and examinations
  • Swelling or lumps in your mouth, neck, lips or on your tongue
  • Numbness or pain in your mouth or throat without any obvious causes
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing food


Quitting smoking will improve your long-term oral and general health, as well as significantly reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.


If you would like some advice about quitting, or you are planning to quit smoking soon, click here

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