Valparaiso (219) 531-8914
951 Southpoint Dr.
Valparaiso, IN 46385
Chesterton (219) 926-5445
1830 South 11th Street
Chesterton, IN 46304

Oral Health is Threatened by Smoking

Question: “Dr. Arnold, I know that smoking is bad for your health, but is it really that bad for your teeth?”

Answer: I think that most people are aware that smoking is one of the worst things that they can do to their overall health. In fact, some researchers believe that non-smokers live an average of fourteen years longer than smokers. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the deleterious effects that smoking can have on one’s oral health.

The use of tobacco products substantially increases the risk for and can elevate the severity of periodontal (gum and bone) disease. Periodontal disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss among Americans.

Other potential problems include increased gum recession, increased staining and tartar buildup, bad breath, and the possibility of diminished senses of taste and smell. The increased rate of gum recession can create root surface sensitivity and can make these root surfaces more susceptible to decay (cavities).

After a tooth is removed, smoking within the first seventy-two hours can lead to an infection in the extraction site. This can be extremely painful and is referred to as a dry socket.

Using tobacco can also lead to oral cancer. It is especially important for smokers to see a dentist regularly because a good dental team will screen for oral cancer at each visit. Cancer of the mouth often goes undetected without regular dental exams. Oral cancer has the potential to grow rapidly. It can be fatal if it isn’t diagnosed and treated expeditiously.

Smoking is harmful to one’s oral health and has the potential to cause life-threatening illnesses. The more one smokes, the more likely he or she is to develop oral cancer and a host of other problems. I commonly counsel patients to quit smoking as soon as possible in order to live a longer, more healthful life.

Dr. Arnold practices dentistry in Chesterton and Valparaiso and is a clinical instructor with the Hornbrook Group, which teaches contemporary dental techniques to dentists from around the country. For more information on this or any other dental topic, please visit: If you have questions for Dr. Arnold, please send an e-mail to: or a letter to: 1830 South 11th St., Chesterton, IN, 46304.