alarm-ringing ambulance angle2 archive arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up at-sign baby baby2 bag binoculars book-open book2 bookmark2 bubble calendar-check calendar-empty camera2 cart chart-growth check chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up circle-minus circle city clapboard-play clipboard-empty clipboard-text clock clock2 cloud-download cloud-windy cloud clubs cog cross crown cube youtube diamond4 diamonds drop-crossed drop2 earth ellipsis envelope-open envelope exclamation eye-dropper eye facebook file-empty fire flag2 flare foursquare gift glasses google graph hammer-wrench heart-pulse heart home instagram joystick lamp layers lifebuoy link linkedin list lock magic-wand map-marker map medal-empty menu microscope minus moon mustache-glasses paper-plane paperclip papers pen pencil pie-chart pinterest plus-circle plus power printer pushpin question rain reading receipt recycle reminder sad shield-check smartphone smile soccer spades speed-medium spotlights star-empty star-half star store sun-glasses sun tag telephone thumbs-down thumbs-up tree tumblr twitter tiktok wechat user users wheelchair write yelp youtube

How Smoking Affects Kids’ Oral Health

We’ve all heard over and over how smoking can adversely impact health, with the most infamous example being lung cancer.

But smoking doesn’t only harm the lungs; it damages every single system in the body, and it also damages oral health. As parents, we should do whatever we can to make sure our kids and teens aren’t picking up such a harmful habit.

Smoking Versus Oral Health

According to the ADA, some of the oral health effects of smoking include:

  • Chronic bad breath
  • Stains on the tongue and teeth
  • Dulled senses of taste and smell
  • Receding gums
  • Enamel erosion
  • Tooth and bone loss
  • Increased risk of gum disease and oral cancer

What About Vaping?

Vaping is often portrayed as a much healthier option to traditional smoking, but the vapor still contains nicotine and ultra-fine toxic chemicals and heavy metals. The nicotine itself reduces blood flow, affecting teeth and gums, potentially causing gum recession and death of gum tissue. It can also reduce saliva production, leading to dry mouth (which causes all kinds of problems, from bad breath to tooth decay), and it can trigger teeth grinding, which damages teeth.

Why Do Kids Start Smoking?

Even if they’re learning in school that smoking can lead to all kinds of diseases and other health problems, it can be hard for kids to really understand that this habit might have very serious consequences for them, personally. In many cases, they start smoking because they want to seem more grown up, particularly if the grown-ups in their lives smoke.

The kids who don’t smoke cigarettes may still be vulnerable to vaping because of all the messaging that it’s not as unhealthy as traditional smoking — not to mention the brightly colored vape pens and candy flavors the liquid comes in. Decades of PSAs and instruction have been pretty effective at stripping traditional smoking of its “cool” facade, but modern kids and teens aren’t as wary of vaping. As parents, we should talk to our kids about the effects of vaping and help them understand that they don’t need an addictive habit to be cool and grown up.

Secondhand Smoke Isn’t Safe Either

Sometimes smokers will claim that they’re not hurting anyone else with their habit, and they’re willing to accept the risks to themselves. Unfortunately, this is not accurate. Studies have suggested a link between cavities (in baby teeth and adult teeth) and regular exposure to secondhand smoke. The broader health risks are especially serious for small children and infants, including infections, asthma attacks, and even SIDS.

Take Advantage of the Resources Around You

Quitting an addictive habit isn’t easy, but smokers who need help quitting are not alone. Some of the best resources are the support of family, friends, and counselors. There’s also a lot of great information available online, and the dentist is another great resource. If you are a smoker, make sure to schedule regular dental exams (sometimes more than two a year) to keep your mouth healthy!

We’re always happy to see our patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.