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Smoking and Tobacco

You know smoking is bad for your health, so it should be no surprise that cigarettes and chewing tobacco are also harmful to your oral health. For one, tobacco products can cause bad breath, but that’s only the beginning.

Other possible oral health impacts of smoking and all tobacco products include:

  • stained teeth and tongue
  • dulled sense of taste and smell
  • slow healing after a tooth extraction or other surgery
  • difficulties in correcting cosmetic dental problems
  • gum disease
  • oral cancer

Quitting is the only way to decrease your risk of these and other tobacco-related health problems. The addictive quality of nicotine, which is found in cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco, can make this especially difficult. That’s why it’s important to have a plan and a support network, people to help you stick to your plan. Write down your reasons for quitting. Exercising, chewing gum and keeping yourself occupied can help you quit. Talk to your dentist or doctor to see if the medications available would help you to stop using tobacco.

In January 2014, the U.S. marked the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health by expanding the list of illnesses associated with smoking. More than 20 million Americans have died because of smoking since the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health was issued in 1964, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Most of those deaths were of adults who smoked, but 2.5 million were of nonsmokers who died because they breathed secondhand smoke—air that was polluted by other people’s cigarette smoke.

The Surgeon General’s office has a free, easy-to-read, illustrated booklet that is designed to give concerned adults information to help them make choices that will improve their own health and the health of their children, their families, and their communities. For more information, visit the Surgeon General's website.

Looking for more inspiration to quit? Check out Tips From Former Smokers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Watch TV ads from the Tips campaigns and get to know the real people who appear in them. You can also watch their videos to hear how cigarette smoking has affected their lives.