The harmful effects of smoking

Besides having some seemingly pleasant effects, smoking involves many adverse effects that people can suffer from. These harmful effects can affect the oral cavity, the trachea, the lungs and other parts of the organism.

The harmful effects consist in the fact that while we smoke, we inhale hot smoke containing toxic, irritating components that dry and inflame the tissues that it reaches. The cigarette smoke contains about 4000 different compounds that on one hand irritate the mucous membranes and on the other hand they develop toxic, mutagenic (changing the basic information of the cells) and carcinogen (creating tumours) effects by getting through the mucosa.

The effect of the harmful substances is enhanced by the high temperature of the smoke, while the drying effect decreases the resistance of the mucosa, thus facilitating the access of the toxic compounds into the organism. The toxic smoke deriving from a burning cigarette passes through the oral cavity first; this is where its multiple damaging effects start. This smoke meets the teeth, parts of the teeth (gums) and the mucosa covering the oral cavity. The smoke causes discolouration on the surface of the teeth, that can vary from light to black, and it has a bothering aesthetic effect, that we tend to observe rather at other people, less on us.

We have to mention separately the destructive effect that cigarette smoke has in the periodontium. Its effect concerns impairing the local defence system, improving the chances of the microorganisms and having direct toxic effects. This way it encourages the inflammatory processes that are caused by special microorganisms and due to which the periodontium decays, the teeth become movable and we lose them. Smoking can be the cause of all the periodontal diseases; it can speed up their progression and worsen their healing chances.

Giving up smoking can definitely improve the prognosis, but it’s important to keep in mind that the periodontal disease can be reversed without medical help only in the first phase. This frequent disease can cause constant buccal contamination and it can discourage people from cleaning their teeth properly, thus increasing the probability of caries. On the whole it can create an ugly and unhealthy denture, smelly breath and it can influence a person’s popularity and successfulness negatively. The impairment of the periodontium can involve not only the loss of the teeth but it has been related to heart attack, cerebral stroke and other severe medical problems. The most severe consequence of smoking on the buccal cavity is the damage it causes on the mucosa and the tissues beneath, as a result of which fatal tumoral processes can initiate.

The effect of smoking on the buccal mucosa is obvious today. This area is affected by the hottest smoke, drying it out and stinging it. The gases, steams and carcinogen tar can defeat the defensive mechanisms, causing dry, thick, white stains (called leukoplakia). The epidermis gets thicker but of worse quality in these areas and it lets the carcinogen agents through, thus these changes make the creation of tumors more probable.

The aesthetically negative effects of smoking, the discolouration of teeth can be remedied with different tooth whitening processes. The most effective of these is the whitening carried out in the dentist’s offices. We use in this case the ZOOM 2 tooth-whitening system with lamp which can shape up your teeth aesthetically in less than 1,5 hours and it can erase the discolouration caused by smoking. (

Taking into consideration the aspects mentioned above, the best solution for smokers to stay healthy is to give up smoking. It takes perseverence and in many cases external help to achieve this! Let’s stand by them and encourage them in defeating this vice!

Dr. Péter Tamás