8 Mar, 2024

Oral Health & Smoking

Illustrated image of old Pasifika man & nurse talking about oral health

We're all aware of the harmful effects of smoking on our health, but did you know it also greatly impacts your oral health? In this resource, we'll discuss the oral health conditions caused by smoking and the risks of these conditions.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer show shows up in the tongue, tissue lining of the mouth and gums, under the tongue and at the back of the throat This type of cancer usually starts with little to no pain, which means it can be missed until it reaches a late stage. One way to make sure oral cancer is caught early is by having regular dental appointments (around 1-2 appointments a year). During your dental check-up, your dentist examines your entire mouth, including your teeth, gums, tongue, and cheeks, to catch any signs early. Smoking is one of the major causes of oral cancer, affecting areas like the lips, tongue, and cheeks. The longer you smoke, the higher your risk of developing oral cancer becomes. Even if you have smoked for a while, it’s better to give up sooner rather than later.

Gum Disease & Tooth Loss

Gum disease is an infection that damages the soft tissue around the teeth. Without treatment, it can destroy the bone that supports your teeth. This can cause the teeth to loosen or even lead to tooth loss. In most cases, gum disease is caused by plaque. When we eat sugary foods, plaque forms on our teeth. Over time, if we don’t brush properly this plaque hardens on the gum line and turns into tartar which needs to be professionally removed. If not cleaned properly and removed, this becomes damaging to the gums and eventually the teeth. One of the major causes of gum disease is smoking, causing plaque to build up faster. Smoking also reduces the oxygen supply in the blood which makes it more difficult to heal from infection.

Here’s a few tips to help you avoid gum disease:

  • Brush twice daily and floss once daily to keep mouth hygiene in check.
  • Book regular dental appointments as professional cleaning means plaque and tartar can be removed.
  • Quit smoking in a supported way with The Fono smokefree team (details below)

There are many other oral health problems associated with smoking. Some of these are:

  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Staining on your teeth
  • Mouth sores
  • Bad breath
  • Delayed healing after dental treatment

Regular Dental check-ups will prevent and detect most of these conditions

Book your appointment now with one of our Dentists to address your needs or concerns.

At The Fono we are here to kickstart your smokefree journey

We know that quitting isn't easy, but we're here to support you and make it easier.

Whether it's a conversation with a friend or a nudge from your whānau, the decision to quit is the best thing you can do for your health. You can join the programme one-on-one with a personal Quit Coach, or you can join a group.

The programme is flexible yet encouraging and our team of Quit Coaches are here for you through the withdrawals and emotional challenges of giving up smoking. Who can access the service:

Our free quit smoking support services are available to all people in the community aged 12 years old and over. You must be living in one of these areas:

  • Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) region
  • Waitemata District Health Board (WDHB) region

If you do not live in one of these areas, we can help by referring you to other agencies that can assist you.