How does chewing tobacco affect your teeth


Initially, tobacco was considered a medicinal plant and was used in forms like ointments, mouth rinses and pastes etc to treat multiple diseases. It was later realized that it contains thousands of chemicals like nicotine, nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are carcinogenic substances.

Smoking, along with hypertension and obesity, is the preventable cause of death in the world. It is the cause of many oral diseases and adverse oral conditions. For example, it is a risk factor for mouth cancer, gum diseases, and birth defects in children whose mothers smoke during pregnancy.


India is the 2nd largest producer and consumer of tobacco in the world. The prevalence of tobacco use in India is 35%. Each year over 4.9 million deaths and unless there is a drastic decrease in its use, this number will rise to 10 million deaths annually.


Cigarettes comprise of over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer. As you inhale, the smoke lingers in the mouth before it is exhaled. Smoking directly affects oral health because it reduces blood flow to the gums thereby increasing the risk of bacterial infections.

Cigarettes contain tiny particles that are abrasive to teeth (wear teeth). Smoking reduces the vitamin C levels needed to keep the gums healthy and raises mouth temperature causing damage to the cells. It causes imbalances in the immune system resulting in increased stress in the body.

Forms of tobacco

Smoking forms include
  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Hookah
  • Chutta
  • Chillum
Smokeless (chewing forms)
  • Betel quid
  • Oral snuff
  • Gutkha
  • Nass
  • Naswar
  • Khaini
  • Mawa
  • Mishri
  • Gudakhu

Clinical features

Both chewing and smoking forms have bad effects on the mouth. The most prominent effect of smoking on the oral cavity is
  • Bad breath
  • Stained teeth, tongue, and restorations
  • Sensitivity of the teeth
  • Gum recession
  • Tooth decay
  • Mouth Cancer
  • Oral lesions such as smoker’s melanosis and smoker’s palate
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Teeth wear down
  • Loose teeth
  • Smoking and smokeless (chewing) form equally cause mouth cancer. Individuals chewing tobacco are around 50 times more likely to develop mouth cancer especially in the areas where tobacco is held in the mouth.


    Tobacco use apart from causing tooth diseases causes many other diseases affecting general health. This includes stroke, heart attack, chronic bronchitis, asthma and cancer of the lungs, throat, stomach, kidney, and bladder.


  • 1. Quitting smoking is one of the most cost-effective methods of preventing oral diseases
  • 2. Exercising, chewing gum and keeping yourself occupied can help assist an individual in quitting smoking
  • 3. Write down your reasons for quitting
  • 4. Speak to your practitioner regarding any available medications that would help you assist in quitting (nicotine gums, patches, and release tablets)
  • Five D’s that might help individuals who are trying to quit include
    • Delay: The desire for smoking will eventually be gone
    • Have a deep breath
    • Drink water as it will eliminate the chemicals
    • Try developing a new healthy habit
    • Talk regarding your thoughts and feelings

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