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Smoking's associations with dry mouth makes for bad breath, risk of tooth decay
Updated: 1/24/2011 7:00:06 PM

Smoking is associated with dry mouth and declining oral health. Though the time for New Year's resolutions may have passed, it is still never too late to resolve to stop smoking. Smokers may want to heed the impact of their habit on their oral health, including a potential for dry mouth - or a difficulty producing saliva.

Common causes of dry mouth include certain medications and disease treatments, notes the website of the National Institutes for Health (NIH).
Smoking, however, may be a highly preventable source of symptoms. Studies have found a positive association between tobacco use and dry mouth, as tobacco dries out saliva.

The American Dental Association (ADA) also notes that smoking and chewing tobacco can also cause gingivitis, which results in dry mouth.

Healthy saliva production is essential to oral health, as the process neutralizes mouth acids that can cause tooth decay. It also controls bacteria and fungus production, preventing infections, according to the NIH. Dry mouth, then, increases the risk of dental decay and oral infections. It can also dull one's taste and makes chewing, swallowing and speaking extremely difficult.

Bad breath is another deeply unpleasant side effect of dry mouth. Quitting smoking today may help one keep fresh breath, and healthy teeth and gums.

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