Smoking Damages Aging Parents’ Teeth

September 29, 2014
Stopping smoking has many benefits, including oral health.

Stopping smoking has many benefits, including oral health.

Smoking is a difficult habit for aging parents (or anyone) to kick, but the benefits of stopping tobacco use make its cessation worthwhile. There are dozens of reasons why one should encourage aging parents, spouses and others to quit: one of them is that it damages their oral health.

Smoking and teeth

Granted, there are other smoking consequences, such as lung cancer, that are far more serious. However, oral health is (or should be) a concern to aging parents and other seniors. As one ages, tooth health becomes more and more important as the teeth and gums age and become more likely to feel the effects of outside forces.

One of the most visible consequences of smoking on oral health is a yellowing or other discoloration of the teeth. While this is not ideal, the visible effect is of less consequence than other issues.

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease refers to those conditions that create problematic issues related to the gums, such as receding gums. When the gums deteriorate and recede, blood flow is reduced to the gums and the roots of the teeth become more and more visible. This exposure makes the roots more at risk from bacteria, plaque and decay. In addition, halitosis, cavities and mouth sores are more common with receding gums.

Smoking is a notable risk factor for periodontal disease. It’s estimated that three-fourths of the cases of gum disease in adults is caused to some degree by smoking.

Bone loss

Bone loss is more common as an individual ages; the chance of bone loss in the jaw increases significantly if one is a smoker. This has a decided impact on the chewing ability of aging parents and others, as well as causing a great deal of discomfort.


It should be noted that chewing tobacco is no better for the teeth than smoking it; as a matter of fact, chewing tobacco tends to be higher in nicotine than smoking tobacco, which increases the risk of developing oral cancers.

Kicking the tobacco habit can be challenging, stressful and difficult; however, it’s a step that all smokers need to take. For help in stopping smoking, aging parents and others may find the resources below helpful.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

American Lung Association 

Writer, Craig Butler

Craig Butler has been writing on a wide range of topics for more than fifteen years. As the National Communications Director for the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Craig regularly writes on a range of health and medical topics. Among the many projects he has written for the Foundation is the Cooley's Anemia Storybook, a collection of original short stories for children with the blood disorder Cooley's Anemia. His freelance work has ranged from reviewing moves and CDs to creating entertainment-related stories about baldness, to creating text for comic strips. Craig looks forward to having a dialogue with you about senior care and issues of concern.

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