Oral Fitness

 Oral Health and Tobacco Use

Last Updated: April 13, 2023
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Closeup image of man smoking cigarette​Tobacco use is causally associated with higher rates of tooth decay, tooth loss, receding gums, gum disease, and more. 

​Tobacco products contain a dangerous mixture of thousands of toxic substances including but not limited to: Nicotine, cadmium, lead, carbon monoxide, ammonia, formaldehyde, nickel, arsenic, benzene, polonium-210 (radioactive and very toxic), vinyl chloride, butane, toluene, and chromium. 

Image of Army dentist performing dental exam on Soldier

These substances increase your ri​sk to a variety of health conditions – including tooth decay, tooth loss, receding gums, gum disease, and mouth or throat cancerExternal Link

​Your dentist routinely screens for tobacco use and can refer you to tobacco cessation treatment. 

Our organization provides additional details regarding tobacco-free living and vaping risks.

Myths & Fa​cts​

Make sure you understand tobacco product risks by reading basic myths & facts below— 

MYTH:   “Tobacco products” do not include vaping or e-cigarettes 

FACT:     All the following products contain nicotine and thus are tobacco products: 

  • ​Cigarettes 
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Snuff 
  • Snus (a milder form of snuff that can be swallowed) 
  • Cigars (premium and non-premium) 
  • Pipe tobacco 
  • Nicotine replacement therapies such as gums, patches, lozenges, patches, strips, sticks 
  • Hookah (waterpipe tobacco) 
  • Electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigarettes, e-hookah, e-cigars, vape pens, advanced refillable personal vaporizers, e-pipes) 

MYTH:   Nicotine is safe because is occurs naturally in tobacco plants

FACT:     The tobacco plant itself uses nicotine as a natural toxic defense against pests. In humans, nicotine is an addictive compound that contributes to serious health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, emphysema, cancer, stroke, diabetes, lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and chronic bronchitis.

MYTH:   Vaping and hookah smoking are less dangerous than regular cigarettes

FACT:     Vaping may cause faster nicotine addiction than regular cigarette smoking. With vaping, nicotine reaches the brain within 10 seconds. Hookah smokers may absorb even more of the toxic chemicals because of the length of hookah smoking sessions. A 1-hour hookah session can produce as much smoke as several packs of cigarettes. Despite the serious dangers, vaping and hookah smoking have become increasingly popular among young adults – including women.  

Graphic of human brain size in young child and adult

MYTH:   Risks from nicotine only occur after long term use 

FACT:     Nicotine use can negatively impact the growth and development of adolescents and young adults. The human brain is not fully developed until age 25. Nicotine can harm the brain, especially that part of the brain that controls attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.​