Adolescent Dental Hygiene: Smoking and its Effects

Teenage boy smoking a cigarette at risk for poor adolescent dental hygiene

Research spanning over 133 countries shows how smoking impacts dental hygiene in kids age 13-15

While the negative effects of smoking aren’t new news, the effects specific to adolescent dental hygiene required further investigation, which happened in the form of a recent study entitled Global Prevalence of Tobacco Use in Adolescents and Its Adverse Oral Health Consequences.  

Smoking has been directly related to dental caries, periodontal disease, melanosis, and hyperkeratosis. Tobacco use is high among adolescents worldwide, with the lowest-income countries having the lowest number of adolescent smokers and higher-income countries having the highest number of adolescent smokers.

Globally, nine out of ten smokers began smoking before age eighteen. Most smokers who start before eighteen continue into adulthood. Early education about the dangers of smoking and oral health may prevent children and teenagers from trying cigarettes.

A global health initiative is needed to educate and prevent dental and health-related effects of smoking. Oral conditions in juvenile smokers directly affect their quality of life and general health. Harmful long-term and short-term oral conditions caused millions of sick days for children in these countries, and the cost of treatments is over a hundred billion a year.

Adolescent cigarette, oral tobacco, and snuff users that were part of various studies since 2007 until now are included in this study. The countries with the most recent studies were used. The countries are placed into four categories based on their gross national income: low-income, lower-middle-income, upper-middle-income, and high-income countries.

Twenty-eight low-income, 76 lower-middle-income, 48 upper-middle-income, and 33 high-income countries are represented in the study. The number of adolescents who use tobacco products varied widely around the globe, but the number was 11 percent in the United States.

The study shows that smoking increases the risk of many oral conditions and overall negatively impacts adolescent dental hygiene. Adolescent smokers are at higher risk for:

  • Gingivitis and bleeding gingiva
  • Malodor or halitosis
  • Caries
  • Periodontal disease
  • Oral mucosal lesions
  • Xerostomia and hypersensitivity
  • Oral precancerous lesions and cancer


About The Author

Each year more than 350,000 professionals advance their career with Elite Learning.