It’s Never Too Late: How Quitting Smoking Will Transform Your Oral Health

by Dr. Yasaman Garakani on March 22, 2017

Almost everyone is familiar with the negative effects of smoking tobacco on your oral health: increasing the risk of cancer, yellow staining, plaque build-up, loss of teeth, and gum disease.[1] Yet what many people don't realize is just how effective quitting for a few weeks and visiting an oral hygienist can be on reversing poor dental health. 


Whiter Teeth

The composition of cigarette smoke and chewing tobacco alike can lead to staining teeth off-white to yellow. Yet by quitting smoking, studies have shown that stained teeth can return to their original colour over time.[2] Visiting a dentist for a thorough cleaning can further help as well, as some of the discolouration may actually be due to supragingival dental calculus.


Removing Dental Calculus

 Supragingival dental calculus is a heavy plaque that has hardened onto the teeth – forming both discolouration and a habitat for future plaque to thrive. Supragingival calculus can slowly form due to various factors: diet, hygiene, age, and smoking habits.[3] A recent study has shown that a strong relationship exists between smoking and the amount of dental calculus found on teeth. Independent of any of the above factors, 86% of smokers surveyed had a prevalence of supragingival calculus, while only 65% of non-smokers showed a prevalence. And for ex-smokers? Only 66% of ex-smokers surveyed showed a prevalence for calculus - near the same percentage of non-smokers.[4] Supragingival calculus is too hardened to remove with simple brushing, but with a dentist’s help, scrubbing this heavy plaque off teeth will not only improve oral health, it will improve your smile as well.


A Boosted Immune System

 Smoking reduces blood circulation in the mouth and throat, which in turn reduces the immune system’s effectiveness. This is part of the major contributor to gum disease. Gums have a harder time managing infection and bacterial growth. Quitting smoking will in time increase the amount of circulation the gums receive, which will also boost the immune system. Early signs of gum disease – such as a reddening of the gums, receding gums, and excessive bleeding – should not be taken lightly. Gum disease can cause a loss of teeth as well as a significant amount of pain, bad breath, and increase the risk of oral cancer. What’s more, smoking interferes with gum disease treatments by limiting their effectiveness. Quitting smoking will drastically improve both the effectiveness of the treatment and the immune system.


It’s Never Too Late

As shown, there are many oral health and cosmetic benefits of quitting smoking:  an improved immune system, reduced supragingival dental calculus, a decreased risk of gum disease, and whiter teeth. It’s never too late to quit, and doing so will bring you vast improvement in your oral and overall health. As oral hygienists, we are here for you. If you or someone you know wants help kicking the habit – or wants to know more about the effects of smoking and oral heath – talk to your dentist.


The Smile Dental Centre offers a full range of dental services backed by outstanding patient care for children and adults. The Smile Dental Centre won the Consumer Choice Award five years in a row (2013 – 2017) for general and cosmetic dentistry in the London, ON region. Now that’s something to smile about!

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