Learn about tobacco and your oral health

  • Published
  • By TRICARE Communications

There’s a great deal of scientific information that proves using tobacco products is seriously harmful to your health. Nicotine products can increase your risks for cancer of the throat, lungs, and stomach. Also, tobacco products can negatively impact your oral health in several ways.

“Tobacco use can lead to gum disease,” said Doug Elsesser, program analyst with the Defense Health Agency’s TRICARE Dental Program. “Smoking or chewing tobacco makes it tougher for your body to fight infection, including in the gums.”
The more you use tobacco in any form, the greater the risk of gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And gum disease may require you to get deeper, more invasive teeth cleanings or even surgery. The bacteria from gum disease can also worsen existing chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. 
Besides gum disease, smoking and smokeless tobacco can have several other negative effects on your oral health. According to the American Dental Association, tobacco use can also lead to:

  • Tooth staining
  • Loss of tooth enamel
  • Gum tissue loss
  • Tooth loss
  • Oral lesions
  • Oral cancer

Knowing these facts, you may want to quit tobacco. Or you may want to help a friend or family member quit. Keep in mind, quitting tobacco can be hard, and it may take several attempts. You may also need some support and resources to help you stay quit and get your health back on track.
For information on TRICARE’s tobacco cessation services, check out the TRICARE Tobacco Cessation Program Fact Sheet. You can also review information about eligibility for covered services. These services include tobacco cessation products and counseling.
The Department of Defense’s tobacco education campaign, YouCanQuit2, also provides a wide range of tools to help you quit tobacco.
Remember, talk with your dentist if you have any concerns about your teeth or gums. And if you use tobacco products, try to quit this year.