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Effect of tobacco on the oral cavity

A week after the world anti-tobacco day, it is good to write a blog on smoking and its adverse effects to the oral cavity.

Tobacco as such is a carcinogen (cancer causing agent). From inflammation till cancer, tobacco can cause anything and everything. A few notable effects that tobacco could cause to oral cavity are,

Tooth discoloration, increased plaque formation and bad breath :

Smoking increase tartar and plaque accumulation on the tooth structure which eventually weakens the tooth supporting structures like gums and periodontium.

Tobacco stains are extrinsic stains, yet are hard to remove completely which gives a poor aesthetic appearance. Halitosis (bad breath) is very common for tobacco users.

Weakening of gums and increased bone loss :

Smoking directly triggers the body inflammatory agents, causing swollened gums, prone for infection and increased risk of bone loss. Because smoking cause impaired collagen mechanism, the rate of repair of the lost structure will be extremely slow or nil.

Delayed healing or no healing after tooth removal :

Smoking have negative impact on healing of the tooth removed area called tooth socket. Heat from the smoke and the other tobacco contents directly disrupt the blood clot ( which is essential for the healing process ) on the socket, causing a condition called ‘dry socket’ ( very painful unhealed condition )

Lower sucess rate of implant :

Adequate bone height and bone density is required for a successful implant procedure. Due to chronic bone loss after smoking, success of implant treatment is questionable.

Inflammation of salivary gland opening and reduced salivary flow :

Saliva is an important component in the mouth which play a vital role in defense mechanism, digestion process, lubrication, etc. Reduction in its flow has a tremendous negative effect on the oral environment. Heat from the smoke cause inflammation of the salivary gland opening (condition called smokers palate) and gradually reduces the salivary flow causing dry mouthDry mouth – cause and effect.

Increased risk of leukoplakia and other keratotic lesions:

Leukoplakia is the pre cancerous lesion where the oral mucous membrane undergoes metaplastic changes. Pouching of tobacco is one of the main etiological factor for such conditions and when left untreated it becomes cancer.

Increased risk of oral cancer :

Tobacco as such have a direct influence on the oral mucosa to cause dysplastic changes and thereby causing oral cancer.


Nevertheless of its consequences, it is always better to stay away from tobacco for the healthy and happy life.

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