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Tobacco Use and Your Mouth

Tobacco can be smoked, such as cigarettes, cigars, or pipe; or smokeless (spit), such as chewing tobacco or snuff. Tobacco use can cause mouth problems, such as:

  • Bad breath.
  • Blocked salivary glands.
  • Buildup of dental tartar (calculus), which leads to cavities (dental caries).
  • Wearing down of the biting surfaces of the teeth, especially the cusps.
  • Receding gums and tooth loss.
  • Gum disease (periodontitis), or "trench mouth" (acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis).
  • Stained teeth, dentures, and fillings.
  • Decreased sense of smell and taste.
  • Delayed healing of mouth wounds.
  • Development of thick, hard, white patches inside the mouth (leukoplakia).
  • Development of an overgrowth of the hairlike rough surface of the tongue (hairy tongue).
  • Sore and tender roof of the mouth ("smoker's palate").
  • Oral cancer, which is most commonly found on the lips, the tongue, the lining of the cheeks, the gums, the floor of the mouth, the roof of the mouth, and the area behind the wisdom teeth.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerDavid Messenger, MD
Last RevisedJuly 20, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 20, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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