How Smoking Can Alter Taste (And Other Ill Effects of Smoking)

How Smoking Can Alter Taste (And The Many Other Ill Effects of Smoking)

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day—a perfect opportunity to raise awareness on the many poor health outcomes caused by smoking.

The adverse effects of tobacco on oral health are well documented. These effects include both common and rare conditions and diseases, some completely harmless while others can be life-threatening.

The use of tobacco can cause or contribute to:

  • bad breath
  • impaired taste and reduced ability to smell
  • delayed wound healing
  • periodontal (gum) disease
  • failure of dental implants
  • various diseases of the lining of the mouth, including oral cancer
  • dental caries (tooth decay)
  • thrush infections

Study: Smoking and Impaired Taste

In a small study of around 500 participants (smokers and non-smokers), researchers examined participants’ ability to recognise four tastes: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Whilst results show that smoking doesn’t affect participants’ ability to identify the first three tastes, researchers did find an association between ability to identify the bitter taste of caffeine and a person’s smoking status.

Smoking and oral health

The study showed those who are current smokers as well as those who have already quit couldn’t identify the bitter taste of caffeine. Researchers wrote that the difference in perception of bitter taste of caffeine by current and former smokers is likely to be caused by a toxic process. “As taste impairment persists in former smokers, the bioaccumulation of some tobacco/combustion products might be responsible for the disequilibrium in taste buds regeneration.”

Translation: Smoking seems to destroy tastebuds for the long term!

Other Parts of The Body Are Affected By Smoking

The tongue is just one of the many body parts affected by cigarette smoking. From the head down to the feet, this habit wrecks havoc to body parts, causing life-threatening illnesses.

Below is a list how smoking affects body parts:

Brain—stroke happens when arteries in the brain become blocked. Smoking causes narrowing of arteries.

Eyes—smoking causes damage to the back of one’s eyes, which can cause blindness

Mouth—smoking not only causes bad breath, stained teeth, and impaired taste but it is also the major risk factor in developing mouth cancer and cancer of throat.

Heart—smoking narrows the arteries to your heart. This can cause heart attack.

Check out this graphic and interactive website where you can click on the body parts to see how smoking affects the body.

Benefits of Quitting: A Timeline

Deciding to stop smoking not only increases your life expectancy but doing so can also improve the quality of your life—and the benefits start to happen in less than 12 hours after quitting.

Did you know that twelve hours after your last puff almost all the nicotine is out of your system?

And that after a day of not smoking, the level of carbon monoxide in your blood has dropped dramatically. You now have more oxygen in your bloodstream?

After 5 days, most of the nicotine by-products are gone. And after a year of kicking the habit, you cut your risk of developing coronary heart disease by half.

Ask Us About Smoking Cessation

There are plenty of health-related reasons to quit and lots of support available. Speak to our team for more information.

This article was first published on this website on May 29, 2014. It was updated on April 30, 2019.