Tobacco Use and Oral Health

Addiction. 2021 Dec;116(12):3531-3540. doi: 10.1111/add.15513. Epub 2021 Apr 25.


This review outlines the important oral implications of tobacco use. The lining of the mouth (oral mucosa), if exposed to tobacco and its products in a susceptible individual, can develop benign, potentially malignant, and malignant tumours. Treatment and prognosis depend on tumour type, how early it is detected, its size and site in the oral cavity and whether it has spread. Advanced oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has a 20% 5-year survival rate. Tobacco use also increases the risk of periodontitis, peri-implantitis, caries, alveolar osteitis and halitosis. Although less life threatening than OSCC, these tobacco related conditions create a substantial financial and health burden for individuals and society. Dental practitioners routinely examine the oral cavity for signs of mucosal and tooth changes, are experienced in recognising variations from normal and have established management and referral pathways. They are also ideally positioned to provide brief interventions to assist their patients to quit smoking.

Keywords: Dental practitioner; oral cancer; oral health; oral pathology; tobacco; tobacco cessation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell*
  • Dentists
  • Humans
  • Mouth Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Oral Health
  • Professional Role
  • Tobacco Smoking