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Tobacco Use & Your Oral Health

Refusing Tobacco Cigarettes

Does Smoking & Using Tobacco Cause Oral Problems?

Learn about the adverse effects.

You probably know that smoking cigarettes and using tobacco is detrimental to your health. But the problems are not limited to lung disease and secondhand smoke. On the contrary, the use of this harmful carcinogen can also have adverse effects on your oral health.

Nicotine, the psychoactive ingredient in tobacco, is highly addictive. Though much progress has been made in educating the public on the dangers, millions still become addicted each year. If you smoke cigars, cigarettes, or use smokeless chewing tobacco, the best thing you can do for your oral health is to quit.

What is the harm?

The mouth is a unique environment with many sensitive tissues and glands. Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco can damage saliva production, thereby contributing to dry mouth (xerostomia). In turn, the lack of saliva leads to increased rates of cavities, tooth decay, and periodontal disease.

With long term use, the risk for developing harmful oral cancer also becomes more likely. Oral cancer is one of the more common varieties, with over 50,000 new cases in the US every year. Early detection is the most critical factor that determines treatment outcomes. Symptoms may include unusual lumps that develop in the mouth or white or red patches that do not heal.

When visiting the dentist, be sure to mention that you use tobacco, and we can provide an oral cancer screening.

If you use tobacco, quitting is the best thing you can do for your oral health. Numerous quitting aids are available, such as nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and prescription medications.

About Dr. Sean Moran

Dr. Moran is a San Francisco native. He received his undergraduate degree at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He also received his DDS degree from Creighton University School of Dentistry in 1988 at which time he began practicing general dentistry in San Francisco.

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