How Smoking Affects Your Smile

19% of adults in the UK smoke, meaning there are roughly 9.6 million adult smokers in Great Britain today. Thanks to the constant efforts to make the risks of smoking known, this figure has halved since 1973.

We’ve all seen the warning messages on the front of cigarette packages, and so we know how seriously smoking can affect your health. But, more often than not, the first thing we think of when it comes to the risks of smoking is lung disease. But what about the mouth? After all, it is the point of entry for these harmful chemicals. Read on and discover how smoking affects your smile. Gum disease is a very common condition in adults in the UK, causing gums to become swollen, sore and sometimes infected. Early symptoms, known as gingivitis, can include red or swollen gums, or bleeding gums after brushing or flossing your teeth. If untreated, these symptoms can develop into periodontitis which can cause bad breath, a continuous bad taste in your mouth, gum abscesses and can even cause tooth loss.

Gum disease 

As a smoker, you are at double the risk of getting gum disease. Smoking interferes with normal function of gum tissue cells, weakening your immune system and making it easier for infection to set in.Once you have gum damage, smoking also makes it harder for your gums to heal - making you more prone to developing more severe types of gum disease (periodontitis and  necrotising ulcerative gingivitis).


Read our blog post to find out more about gum disease, and what you can do to prevent it.


Excessive Tartar 


Ever felt that strange, uneven, scaley film across your teeth? That’s tartar. This is caused if plaque stays on your teeth long enough to harden. Smoking increases the tartar buildup in your mouth and decrease the flow of saliva, which washes away harmful bacteria.


Tartar can coat your teeth, get under your gum line and stick to your fillings and other dental work. Not only does it feel horrible, but this nasty substance carries bacteria that can damage tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay and gum disease.



Bad Breath


It’s common knowledge that smokers often suffer from halitosis. In fact, it’s one of the first side effects a new smoker will experience. First of all, smoke particles linger in the mouth and lungs post cigarette, meaning the smell can stay on your breath for hours. Looking at the long term effects of smoking, it can also cause chronic bad breath by drying out the pallet.     


Patches and spots in mouth


Leukoplakia is most commonly caused by smoking. The main feature of this condition is a white patch in the mouth that can’t be removed by rubbing. More often than not this patch will appear on the tongue, but can also appear on the floor of the mouth, the roof of the mouth, inside of the the cheek, lower lip and gums. Leukoplakia rarely causes symptoms, however the unappealing appearance of the white patch, as well as the redness around it, can have a pretty negative effect on your smile.


Oral Cancer


Oral cancer can affect any part of the mouth including the surface of the tongue, cheeks, teeth, the roof and floor of the mouth, lips and gums. Tumours can also develop in the glands that produce saliva, the tonsils at the back of the mouth, and the part of the throat connecting your mouth to your windpipe. However, these are less common.


Although more common in people over 40, it is still possible for younger patients to develop the disease. The rise in oral cancer is devastating considering that on average, 91% of oral cancer cases can be prevented.


Lifestyle greatly impacts your chances of developing oral cancer, this is reflected in the fact that 65% of oral cancer cases can be linked to tobacco smoke. On entry, the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke damages cells in your mouth with the potential to make them cancerous. To find out more about oral cancer, what puts you more at risk and what to look at for read our mouth awareness blog.   


If you smoke and are worried about your smile, get in touch today to find out how we can help.


About the author

Barry Tibbott

barry tibbot dental implants

Brunswick Court Dental Practice was established in 1986 as a private practice where Barry is the clinical director.

Involved in implants for many years, Barry has completed a Masters Degree in Implantology at Warwick University where he gained a distinction. He is currently a clinical lecturer to postgraduate MSc students at Warwick University, in addition to mentoring local dentists in this field.

Barry is a member and Implant Mentor for The Association of Dental Implantology and a fellow of The Royal Society of Medicine. He is also a Consultant Member of the British Society of Oral Implantology. You can find him on

Dentists Opening Hours:

Monday/Tuesday: 8:00 - 19:00

Wednesday: 8:30 - 17:30

Thursday: 8:00 - 19:00

Friday: 8:00 - 17:00

Saturday by request.


14 Brunswick Place
Hove, East Sussex, BN3 1NA

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