Smoking tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars is one of the most common causes of bad breath, also known as halitosis. Smoking creates harsh, dry conditions in the mouth by limiting saliva, which is responsible for cleaning small odor-causing particles of food and bacteria from your mouth. With limited saliva production and toxic chemicals regularly deposited in your mouth, bad breath can continue for many years and may progressively worsen.
The most immediate way that smoking causes bad breath is by depositing toxic smoke particles in your throat and lungs. Tobacco-smoke chemicals and additives can remain in the mouth for long periods of time, contributing to other secondary causes of bad breath. Research has been conducted to determine which components of tobacco smoke cause such an unpleasant odor. Reviews discovered that tobacco smoke possesses over 60 aromatic hydrocarbons, most of which are linked with cancer in addition to creating a bad smell. Smoking as little as one-half of a cigar can leave these smelly deposits in saliva.
In addition to making your breath smell unpleasant, smoking can also stain your gums and teeth and lessen your sense of taste. Over time, smoking can leave teeth with a thick coating of tartar. To make matters worse, smoking also increases the risk of developing gum disease, which can exacerbate bad breath and damage gums.
Bad breath can be an early sign of oral cancer, which is especially a concern for those who smoke, as tobacco use is the top risk factor for developing oral cancer. The best way to reduce your risk of cancer and to limit bad breath is to stop smoking or using other tobacco products. Stopping smoking will lower your risk of gum disease and dental stains, and it will also help restore healthy saliva flow to cleanse your mouth more regularly. To promote better oral health, see your dentist regularly and follow a comprehensive oral-hygiene routine of flossing and brushing after every meal.