Smoking and Bad Breath: Top 6 Reasons Why Cigarettes Cause Bad Breath

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in side effects

Dr. Howell

Is there any reason why cigarettes cause bad breath? Yes. There are, in fact, several reasons why cigarette smoking is linked to halitosis. This article discusses smoking and bad breath connection in details. Ready? Here we go.




  1. Cigarettes leave smoke particles in your throat and lungs. The most immediate reason why cigarette smoking causes bad breath is because some particles of the smoke are left in your throat and lungs. The smell of tobacco can linger in the lungs for hours. That’s why even if you brush your teeth after smoking, you still can smell it when you talk or exhale.
  2. Chemicals in tobacco stay even longer in your mouth. Tobacco contains over 4,000 chemicals, most of which are toxic and induce the growth of bacteria. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes do not leave your teeth, tongue and gums easily. They stay even after several episodes of mouth washing. This leads to a host of secondary causes of bad breath. Nicotine, in particular, creates a thin film on your teeth that becomes a breeding ground of bacteria that cause bad breath.
  3. Tobacco contains over 60 aromatic hydrocarbons. For so long, experts have been trying to figure out what exactly it is in tobacco that causes bad breath. In a study published in the journal Chemical, scientists discovered more than 60 aromatic hydrocarbons that contribute to bad breath. They also found that these compounds can cause cancer.
  4. More bad-breath causing compounds are produced when you light up a cigarette. Aside from the innate hydrocarbons, more toxic gaseous compounds are formed when you burn tobacco, which also release awful fumes. These include 2-ethyl pyridine, dimethyl pyrazine and ethyl pyrrole.
  5. It dries up your palate. Don’t think that the smoking and bad breath connection stops there. Smoking also causes your palate to dry out. Well, repeatedly inhaling hot gases dries up your saliva, leaving your tongue and gums dry. Ask any dentist and they will tell you that saliva is important in keeping off odor-causing bacteria in your mouth. So when it’s dry, expect to have bad breath. That’s how simple it is.
  6. Smoke itself smells bad. Most of all, cigarette smoke itself smells so awful and even long-time smokers would agree to this. The problem is that over time, they become immune to the smell of cigarette smoke (and to their breath as well) so they really don’t mind it. But for those who don’t smoke, the smell of a smoker’s breath is really a BIG turn-off!

Fortunately, it is possible to reverse bad breath caused by smoking. You can do it by quitting smoking today. As days pass by, you will notice that your breath starts to smell better. It’s also recommended to see a dentist to undergo thorough oral cleaning to remove  cigarettes stains that cause bad breath.

Stopping smoking now does not only freshen up your breath. Most importantly, it cuts your risk of many life-threatening diseases, including cancer.


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