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Tobacco: Unfiltered Facts

Tobacco use in any form—cigarette, cigar, pipe and smokeless (spit) tobacco—increases the risk for a variety of oral health conditions including:

Periodontal (Gum) Disease—Studies show that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of gum disease.1 In fact, smoking may play a significant role in more than 50 percent of chronic periodontal disease cases.2

Tooth Decay, Bad Breath and Stained Teeth—Despite good oral health habits, tobacco use is still more likely to cause cavities due to decreased saliva flow, increased plaque and tartar build-up and a greater pH level in the mouth. Beyond the medical risks, bad breath and stained teeth are other negative effects of smoking.

Tooth Loss—Smokers are about twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers.3, 4 Smoking can restrict blood flow to the gum tissues, limiting delivery of nutrients necessary for the bone and gum support of teeth.

Oral Cancer—Of the nearly 40,000 Americans diagnosed with oral cancer annually, only about half live past the five-year survival milestone.5 Tobacco use increases oral cancer risk, and those who use tobacco and consume excessive alcohol have an especially high risk.6

Discuss your concerns about tobacco use and its impact on your oral health with your dentist.

More tobacco-related health risks:7

  • Cancers including: bladder, esophageal, laryngeal, lung, throat, cervical, kidney, stomach and pancreatic
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) including chronic bronchitis and emphysema
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Cataracts
  • Pneumonia

Did you know? There are 28 or more cancer causing agents in just smokeless tobacco alone.8

1 American Academy of Periodontology,, accessed July 2013.
2 New York Times Health Guide, accessed July 2013.
3 “Smoking, Smoking Cessation, and Tooth Loss.” E.A. Krall, B. Dawson-Hughes, A.J. Garvey and R.I. Garcia. J Dent Res. October 1997, 76(10): 1653–1659.
4 “Tobacco Use and Incidence of Tooth Loss Among US Male Health Professionals.” T. Dietrich, N.N. Maserejian, K.J. Joshipura, E.A. Krall and R.I. Garcia. J Dental Res. 2007, 86(4): 373–377.
5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,, accessed July 2013.
6 Oral Cancer Foundation,, accessed July 2013.
7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,, accessed July 2013.
8 American Dental Association,, accessed July 2013.

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