By now, you’ve seen all of the commercials and read the countless amount of anti-smoking pamphlets and articles that tell you how bad smoking is for your body. Besides knowing what it can do to your lungs, there are a few things you should know when it comes to your teeth, tongue, lips, gums and breath.

Oral Cancer

If you smoke or chew tobacco, your chances of cancer are higher than most Americans. You run a risk of cancer of the tongue, mouth, gums, throat and lips. It was estimated that there were over 3,400 oral cancer cases last year alone. Men alone made up over half of those cases.

According to dental hygienest Mary Bertone from the Center for Community Oral Health at the University of Manitoba, “Your risk for mouth related cancers are much higher if you are both a drinker and smoker.” The down side to this is that the diagnosis of oral cancer is not made until the cancer has advanced. This will lead to an increased amount of cancer related deaths.

Gum Disease

The effects of smoking on your gums is two-fold. The first is the increase of bacteria that creates plaque—this increase of plaque buildup constantly attacks your gums. The second issue involves the fact that smoking decreases the amount of oxygen-rich blood that is available for healing. This plaque attack and inability to heal leaves the gums open to infection and a decreased immune system to fight it. When you compare smokers to non-smokers, The progression of gum disease occurs more rapidly.

An Increase in Cavities

When you consider the amount of plaque build-up and the amount of problems smoking causes your gums, it is only a matter of time before your teeth start to feel the affects. Not only is your mouth at a higher risk, but your teeth are also at an increased risk of cavities.

Halitosis, or Bad Breath

It is common place that smokers would have an increased amount of bad breath. As compared to other types of bad breath which occur from eating food, a smokers bad breath is caused by many chemicals that are found in cigarettes. So every time you take a puff a majority of those chemicals remain in your mouth. With all of these different chemicals, your mouth is severely prone to drying out which can cause infections and eventual sinus problems.

Yellow, Stained Teeth

Over time, the mouth of a smoker can be very displeasing to others. This can include the person’s smile when you notice their teeth yellowed and stained from both the tar and nicotine. If you already have yellow or stained teeth and you are a smoker, now you know why. What causes it is all of the chemicals that cause the staining gets absorbed into your teeth’s enamel. Over time, the yellow staining could become permanent.

Your Sence of Taste and Smell Decreases

After you’ve been smoking regularly, you’ll start to notice that your food doesn’t taste or smell the same. This could easily decrease the amount of enjoyment that you experience while eating. This could result in over-flavoring with salt or sugar so that you can taste your food better. So remember, if you see yourself adding more salt or sugar to food that has already been flavored sufficiently, you could be experiencing this decrease in taste bud function.