Health Encyclopedia



Tobacco Use and Your Mouth

Tobacco can be smoked, such as cigarettes, cigars, or pipe; or smokeless (spit), such as chewing tobacco or snuff. Tobacco use can cause mouth problems, such as:

  • Bad breath.
  • Blocked salivary glands.
  • Buildup of dental tartar (calculus), which leads to cavities (dental caries).
  • Wearing down of the biting surfaces of the teeth, especially the cusps.
  • Receding gums and tooth loss.
  • Gum disease (periodontitis), or "trench mouth" (acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis).
  • Stained teeth, dentures, and fillings.
  • Decreased sense of smell and taste.
  • Delayed healing of mouth wounds.
  • Development of thick, hard, white patches inside the mouth (leukoplakia).
  • Development of an overgrowth of the hairlike rough surface of the tongue (hairy tongue).
  • Sore and tender roof of the mouth ("smoker's palate").
  • Oral cancer , which is most commonly found on the lips, the tongue, the lining of the cheeks, the gums, the floor of the mouth, the roof of the mouth, and the area behind the wisdom teeth.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Last Revised July 20, 2012

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