Tag Archives: leukoplakia

5 Ways Cigarette Smoking Damages Your Oral Health

Cigarette smoking is a hard habit to kick. For those that succeed in quitting, whether it’s cold turkey or gradual, it’s important to remind yourself of the reasons why. Physical and emotional motivators can be the most powerful, and therefore most likely to help you abstain.

While there are many known effects of nicotine abuse, such as cancer and shortened life span, some smokers overlook their oral health side effects.Oral health affects your entire body and it’s important to take care of your mouth. For those looking to quit, here are 5 powerful motivators to help you kick that habit!

Unhealthy Gums

White, discolored, and bleeding gums  are very common side effects seen in smokers. Healthy gums are naturally pink in color. Gingivitis, or periodontal disease, is common in smokers and causes tender, bleeding gums. Further, many cigarette smokers see their gums change to an off-white color. All of these are signs of unhealthy gums. The ingredients in tobacco products interfere with the normal function of tissue cells, which causes recession and even bone detachment. White gums can be painful and disrupt daily activities such as eating and drinking.


Bad breath/Halitosis is a side effect of tobacco use. For cigarette smokers, bad breath is caused by both nicotine and a vitamin-C deficiency. After smoking, cigarette and smoke particles are left to linger in the throat and lungs. Further, because smoke dries out your mouth, it leaves a climate that facilitates bacterial growth. Basically, the smoke, the chemicals, and the lasting environment all contribute to chronic bad breath. Yuck!

Oral Cancer

tongueThis is the most well known side effect of cigarette smoking, yet many smokers don’t know the extent of it. Oral cancer refers to cancer of the following areas:

  • Lips
  • Tongue
  • Cheek lining
  • Gums
  • Palate (roof of mouth)
  • Floor of the mouth

The type of oral cancer most commonly found is “squamous cell carcinomas”. These involve epithelial cells on the surface of the skin and can often spread very quickly. This is why it is imperative to know the warning signs for oral cancer and to act accordingly. The most common symptoms of oral cancer are tenderness, or sore spots. Lymph nodes, which are located at the top of your neck, will also become inflamed and tender. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to go to your dentist or a health professional.

Loss of Taste and Smell

Many smokers experience a dulling of taste and smell because breathing in the hot fumes of smoke is toxic to the senses. It’s normally the loss of smell that comes first, and as a result your palate is unable to detect as many flavors/sensations. While the loss of smell and taste is gradual, many ex-smokers have reported that their senses returned quickly after quitting completely. Yet another powerful motivator for those looking to quit.


Presence of Leukoplakia, or white patches, which form on surfaces inside the mouth, tongue, and cheek. The patches themselves are defined as instances of keratosis, or the buildup of keratin on the skin. The causes of leukoplakia are relatively well defined. In broad terms, the keratin patches develop in response to prolonged irritation. The most common source of irritation that leads to leukoplakia is the use of tobacco. Whether smoked or chewed, tobacco is frequently attributed with causing the formation of the patches. While the patches are not generally harmful, they can cause discomfort and can easily be avoided.

These 5 motivators are just the tip to the iceberg when it comes to your health and negative side effects from cigarette smoking. While nicotine is a real addiction, keeping perspective and using motivators, such as your health, can help you achieve your goal to quit smoking.

About the Author: Alexis Goodrich publishes a dental health blog, BestDentistGuide.com, and you can also follow her on Twitter for all things dental @thedentistguide.

The Health Consequences of Smokeless Tobacco

Spit is a common tobacco product used amongst young people and athletes. Often flavored, these smokeless tobacco products are viewed as both tasty and appealing.

But the health consequences associated with this product are serious—just as serious as dangers associated with cigarettes.

It is imperative that people recognize these consequences.

What is Smokeless Tobacco?

Smokeless tobacco is often called spit tobacco because it is used in the mouth. Spit consists of tobacco, nicotine, sweeteners for flavor, abrasives, salts, and many other chemicals.

One form of spit tobacco is chew, a leafy form of the substance. Another is snuff, a powdery ground tobacco that can be sniffed or chewed.

One of the appealing elements of smokeless tobacco is the added flavors, including mint, licorice, or cherry flavors. Because of this, young children are attracted to this product, and some start using it as early as nine or ten years old.

Smokeless tobacco should never be perceived as a substitute for cigarettes. There are over 3,000 chemicals and 28 carcinogens found in spit tobacco. It is just as lethal to one’s health as inhaling a cigarette.

Consequences of Using Smokeless Tobacco

It is essential that people do not interpret the lack of smoke or the flavorful taste of spit as fun and harmless. There are several consequences to one’s health from using this product. Because there are over 3,000 chemicals found in smokeless tobacco, there are elevated risks of users developing throat or mouth cancer. Whitish sores may develop inside the mouth called leukoplakia.

Users’ heart rates are often elevated, as is their blood pressure, increasing their chances of suffering from a heart attack or stroke. The chemicals in the spit decrease the body’s circulation and oxygen levels, leading to increased lethargy and dizzy spells.

Smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, and nicotine is extremely addictive. An addicted body is one that only seeks to satisfy its addiction.

Furthermore, users have a higher risk of developing tooth and gum disease due to the nature of this product’s use.

Reference: Health Concerns: Smokeless Tobacco [http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/tobac-tabac/body-corps/smokeless-sansfumee-eng.php]