Effects of Smoking & Drinking on Your Oral Health

People who smoke tobacco products and drink alcohol may be at serious risk when it comes to their oral health. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of U.S. adults who smoke cigarettes declined from 20.9% in 2005 to 16.8% in 2014. This change is due to the increased public awareness on overall health risks and dangers caused by smoking tobacco products; mainly cigarettes. On the contrary, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health states that the number of adults who consume alcohol in the U.S. increased from an estimated 136.8 million people in 2013 to 139.6 million people in 2014. Usage of either substance can lead to dental problems.

Continue reading to learn about the long-term effects, damages, and prevention of smoking and drinking on your oral health.

How does tobacco damage your teeth?

Of course, everyone knows that smoking may cause lung cancer; it also worsens asthma, can lead to emphysema and other chronic lung problems. However, there are harmful damages of smoking related to your oral health that aren’t well known, such as:

  • Bad breath
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Inflammation of the salivary gland openings on the roof of the mouth
  • Buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth
  • Loss of bone within the jaw (leads to loss of teeth)
  • Delayed healing process following tooth extraction, periodontal treatment, or oral surgery
  • Lower success rate of dental implant procedures
  • A greater need for root canals
  • Damaged tooth enamel

How does alcohol damage your teeth?

Depending on what kind of alcohol you drink, the harmful damage of consuming alcohol on your oral health could be just as bad as smoking. Here are 3 things to consider when consuming alcohol:

  1. Be aware of the sugar content in your drinks: This includes chasers, mixers, wines, wine coolers, sodas, and any other sugary beverages that may feed bacteria growth, which can risk tooth decay. Opt for a softer drink with less sugar such as water, fresh fruit juice, and tea.
  2. Stay hydrated: Alcohol consumption leads to a decrease in saliva flow, causing the buildup in bacteria on your enamel, increasing your risk of tooth decay. To avoid dehydration and bacteria buildup, be sure to alternate alcohol with a glass of water to replenish this saliva and keep your mouth cleansed. You can also chew sugar-free gum or have a mint between drinks to increase saliva production and prevent bad breath.
  3. Shades of Yellow, Red, and Brown: When opting for a heavily colored alcohol, you can end up with stained teeth. Red wine, sangria, and similar drinks with deep hues not only give your teeth a reddish tint, but can result in long-lasting discoloration and overall dullness. Be aware of mixers and chasers that have acidic components like citrus juice, beer, and soda.

Prevention & Oral Hygiene

The easiest way to prevent harmful damages to your teeth is by reducing and quitting drinking and/or smoking. However, that might not be the most reasonable solution for everyone. Here are some ways to increase and maintain better oral health:

  • Use mouthwash: You want to pick a strong formula that will zap bacteria
  • Floss every day: Flossing is especially vital for smokers; it’s an effective way to avoid the buildup of plaque on teeth. If you notice a lot of bleeding as you floss, it could be a sign of early periodontal disease, please consult with your dentist.
  • Have your tongue and gums checked closely at your dental appointments: Let your dentist and hygienist know you are a smoker, so they can watch for signs of periodontal disease and oral cancer. The quicker you act in detecting an issue, the greater the chance of catching a serious problem early.


Come see us today!

At Advanced DDS, we want to make sure you and your family are well-educated on your oral health. Call us today at (516) 825-1100 to reserve your dental care appointment. Advanced DDS is proud to serve the surrounding cities: Mineola, Hempstead, West Hempstead, Franklin Square, Uniondale, New Hyde Park, Westbury, North New Hyde Park, Roosevelt, North Merrick, Roslyn, Carle Place, Williston Park, Old Westbury, Albertson, East Meadow, Garden City Park, Floral Park, East Garden City and many more.

Leave a Comment