Using nicotine comes with so many health risks, from lung cancer to heart disease to harming others with secondhand smoke. According to the American Dental Association, smoking accounts for about 20% of deaths in the United States. It hurts the whole body, but it’s especially dangerous for oral health.

The mouth is the entry spot for nicotine, no matter what form it’s in. Consuming nicotine through smoking, using smokeless tobacco, or vaping restricts blood flow to the gums, which can cause or exacerbate periodontal disease. It can also lead to stained teeth, excessive plaque and tartar buildup, periodontitis (or losing the bone that anchors teeth to the jaw), receding gums, chronic bad breath, gum disease, and tooth loss. In fact, according to the CDC, about 43% of current smokers over the age of 65 have lost all of their teeth.

It doesn’t stop there. Someone who smokes is at ten times the risk of oral cancer than someone who doesn’t smoke. Because the carcinogens and toxins weaken the body’s immune system while warping cell growth, fighting off cancer is harder too.

Using e-cigarettes, or vaping, is sometimes considered safer than smoking cigarettes. That’s a myth. Vaping still brings nicotine into the mouth, body, and bloodstream. It leads to many of the same issues as smoking with an additional one: dry mouth, which can cause mouth ulcers, tooth decay, and bad breath.

Nicotine is an extremely addictive substance. Quitting, or helping someone quit, can be tough – but you don’t have to do it alone. Your dental care provider can be a great resource. If you’re in need of some support, make an appointment with Roseman Dental.

Learn more about oral pre-cancers from Dr. Kishore Chaudhry in Roseman’s College of Dental Medicine