Health effects of smoking

The damaging effects of tobacco use on oral health are well known.

The most significant effects on the mouth are:

  • oral cancers
  • abnormal spots or sores that may lead to cancer
  • increased chance of gum disease
  • poor wound healing after surgery or extractions.

Photo showing mouth with tongue cancer
Photo 1: Cancer of the tongue

Photo of area under the tongue exhibiting white patchy areas
Photo 2: Changes that are reversible

Photo of teeth and gums showing red unhealthy gums and teeth with brown stains at the gumline
Photo 3: Gum disease

Additional effects of smoking

Smokers are more likely to have:

  • smokers breath
  • stained teeth
  • altered taste sensations
  • premature aging.

Photo of lower half of woman's face showing premature wrinkled skin on face and around lips.
Photo 4: Premature ageing in a 45 year old smoker

Photo of lower teeth with brown stains on teeth around the gumline
Photo 5: Stained smoker's teeth

Benefits of quitting

  • The health of your mouth, gums and teeth will improve if you stop smoking.
  • Your sense of taste and smell will improve.
  • You will feel fitter and won't run out of breath so easily.
  • Think of the money you will save that you can spend on other enjoyable things.

Photo of mouth with healthy teeth and gums
Photo 6: Healthy smile

Frequently asked questions

Question: Do smokers really lose their teeth sooner than non-smokers?
Answer: Yes. Smokers tend to have more gum disease and lose their teeth sooner than non-smokers.

Question: When will the white patches in my mouth disappear?
Answer: Many white patches disappear within weeks of stopping smoking.

Question: Will I have problems when I have a tooth extracted?
Answer: After a tooth extraction smokers have a much higher incidence of complications such as infection and poor wound healing.

Question: Do smokers really get cancer of the mouth?
Answer: Yes. However, if you quit your chances of getting cancer of the mouth are much less.

Question: Does smoking limit my treatment options?
Answer: Yes. Implants cannot be provided to smokers due to the inability to heal.

We can help you

  • Be positive. "Quitting smoking is possible!"
  • The Quitline 137 848 service has been designed to help you become a non-smoker.
  • Smokers who get support greatly increase their chances of success.
  • The health benefits of quitting start within two hours of giving up.
  • Nicotine replacement therapies can improve your chances of quitting successfully. Ask Quitline or talk to your GP about what is available for you.

For more advice and support to help you quit smoking, visit the iCanQuit website

Health care interpreter service

A free and confidential interpreter service is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. Ask the staff to arrange an interpreter for you. AUSLAN is also available.

SHPN (COHS): 150440​

Current as at: Tuesday 28 April 2020