Why does smoking cause bad breath?
SUMMARY: Is there a special reason that smoking tobacco causes halitosis? Yes, there is - in fact, there are several reasons why people who smoke are far more likely to suffer from a particular type oral odor called, what else, smoker's breath.
Posted: May 3, 2011
Is there a special reason that smoking tobacco causes halitosis? Yes, there is - in fact, there are several reasons why people who smoke are far more likely to suffer from a particular type oral odor called, what else, smoker's breath.
The most immediate way that cigarettes cause bad breath is by leaving smoke particles in the throat and lungs. This effect is typical of nearly any tobacco product that involves inhaling smoke or rolling it around in the mouth. The smell of a freshly smoked cigarette can linger in the lungs for hours, hence the stale scent associated with smoker's breath.
However, that's just the beginning. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can remain in the mouth, leading to a host of secondary causes of bad breath.
Multiple investigations have been conducted over the years to determine just what it is in smoke that leaves the mouth smelling so awful. A 1968 report published in the journal Chemical reviews found that tobacco smoke contains more than 60 aromatic hydrocarbons, most of which are carcinogenic in addition to conveying a fragrance.
A more recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry focused only on which compounds can be found in the saliva after smoking one-half of a cigar.
Its authors determined that ethyl pyrrole, 2,3-dimethyl pyrazine and 2-ethyl pyridine are some of the most pungent chemicals found in what is often referred to as cigar breath. They added that many such compounds are generated during the combustion of tobacco and its chemical additives.
So, if someone gently tells you that you need to work on your smoker's breath, their nose may be taking offense at pyridines and pyrazines in your saliva. Rinsing with a specialty breath freshening product may neutralize the associated odor and moisten your mouth.
However, be aware that the causes of smoker's breath don't stop here. From a somewhat broader perspective, tobacco causes chronic bad breath by drying out the palate. It's not too hard to see how this happens. Repeatedly inhaling hot gases parches the tongue and gums, leaving a dry, chemical-filmed environment where anaerobic oral bacteria can run amok.
Regular use of an oral care probiotic product can reverse this trend and leave the mouth with more saliva and fewer harmful bacteria.
Even beyond this effect, smoking can cause halitosis in an even longer-term way. Healthcare expert Andre Clarke recently wrote about it in the Bahamas Tribune - the genesis of gum disease and dental decay.
Over time, says Clarke, smoking can leave teeth coated with a thick layer of tartar, while the habit increases the risk of gingivitis and periodontal disease.