Smoking weakens your body’s infection fighters (your immune system). This makes it harder to fight off a gum infection. Once you have gum damage, smoking also makes it harder for your gums to heal.

What does this mean for me if I am a smoker?

  • You have twice the risk for gum disease compared with a nonsmoker.
  • The more cigarettes you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease.
  • The longer you smoke, the greater your risk for gum disease.
  • Treatments for gum disease may not work as well for people who smoke.

Tobacco use in any form—cigarettes, pipes, and smokeless (spit) tobacco—raises your risk for gum disease.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease2

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Gums that have pulled away from your teeth

How Can Gum Disease Be Prevented?

You can help avoid gum disease with good dental habits.

  • Brush your teeth twice a day.
  • Floss often to remove plaque.
  • See a dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings.
  • Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit.
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