In addition to increasing your risk of many health conditions, smoking can increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Smokers are about twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers, according to two 30-year studies at Tufts University that investigated the relationship between smoking and tooth loss. Another study cited in the Journal of Dental Research shows that cigarette smokers are nearly twice as likely as non-smokers to need root canal treatment.
While most people are aware of the impact tobacco use has on their overall health, some might not consider its effects on oral health. Smoking increases risk of mouth pain, cavities, gum recession, gum (periodontal) disease and tooth loss. In fact, an estimated 50 percent of adults who smoke have gum disease.
The good news is that the risk of tooth loss decreases after you quit smoking. To help you kick the habit, your dentist may prescribe a variety of nicotine replacement therapies, such as a transdermal nicotine patch (worn for 24 hours over several weeks with a dissipating flow of nicotine) or chewing gum (which is slowly chewed every one to two hours and then discarded).
In addition to increasing your risk for gum disease and tooth loss, smoking increases your risk for oral cancer. Although oral cancer can occur in any age group, it most often occurs in people over 40 years of age. See a dentist immediately if you notice any red or white patches on your gums, tongue or other oral tissues, and watch for sores that fail to heal within two weeks. Unfortunately, oral cancer is often difficult to detect in its early stages, when it can be cured more easily. Your dentist should perform a head and neck exam to screen for signs of cancer at your regular checkups