Smoking and Bruxism: A dreadful combination

Image shows cigarette smoke damaging lungs and that you should stop smoking as it is lethal.
Smoking is lethal.

Smoking is a well-known cause of disease and death. The bad consequences, however, multiply and become crippling when different conditions coexist. Smoking & Teethgrinding is one example of such a combination.

Today, we’ll discuss how smoking affects your body and leads to bruxism, or teeth grinding, which can make it painful to smile and cause headaches and face pain.

Article’s content

  • What is tobacco ?
  • Why tobacco smoking is addictive ?
  • How consuming tobacco in any form cause bruxism ?
  • Effects of this dual habits (Smoking & Bruxism).
  • How to stop smoking & bruxism.

What is tobacco ?

A plant called tobacco is cultivated for its leaves, which are then dried and fermented and used to make various tobacco products like cigarettes, cigar and bidi. Some consume it as hookah or as snuff.

Why tobacco smoking is addictive ?

Tobacco contains nicotine, a chemical that causes addiction, which is why so many individuals who use tobacco struggle to quit it.

When a person consumes a tobacco product, the nicotine enters into the blood and causes the release of a hormone called epinephrine (adrenaline). The central nervous system is stimulated by epinephrine, raising heartrate, blood pressure, and breathing.

Nicotine also raises levels of the chemical messenger dopamine (feel good hormone). Thus, it becomes difficult to stop smoking and a person becomes addicted to using tobacco products.

How consuming tobacco in any form cause bruxism ?

Bruxism is a habit to grind your teeth together. Now, Habits are unconsciously done activities. Hence, teeth grinding is also done unconsciously but various factors like stress trigger it.

A person is asking a question about how Smoking & Teethgrinding  exacerbate the effects of one another.
Smoking & Bruxism exacerbate the adverse effects of one another.

Now, if you smoke tobacco, dopamine is released. This chemical agent causes muscles to contract. Hence, your jaw muscles contract and this leads to clenching of teeth.

So, if you have stress you are likely to develop teethgrinding habit. And if you start smoking tobacco due to stress which leads to bruxism (teethgrinding) indirectly the adverse effect become bifold.

Stress is not the only factor causing teethgrinding. Find out more about the causative factors from our blog here.

Effect of this dual habits (Smoking & Teethgrinding) on teeth and face.

When smoking and bruxism are present together, the adverse effects become more prominent.

Smoking weakens the gums and removes (resorbs) bone and hence the teeth loose their support. When such damaged supporting system encounters extremely heavy forces from teeth grinding it weakens further.

Image shows the organs damaged by smoking. This includes your heart, lungs, brain ,teeth, bones and stomach.
Smoking affects your various organs thus reducing life expectancy.

The teeth gradually become very loose and have a flat surface. Teeth also become extremely sensitive to hot and cold food items.

Jaw muscles become stiff due to smoking tobacco and remain in contracted state due to bruxism. This makes opening mouth difficult and increases muscular pain. Ultimately, pain in the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) also increases.

Smoking may temporarily reduce bruxism-related headaches, but over time, the frequency and intensity of these episodes rise. Since the former intake amount no longer soothes the severe headaches, individuals increase their tobacco intake. This repeats the cycle of cause (here smoking and teeth grinding) and effect ( here headache).

How to stop Smoking & Teethgrinding.

Smoking as a habit should be stopped as per the directions of your healthcare provider or dentist, so that the withdrawal symptoms are minimum.

You may have to use nicotine replacement medicines and behavioural changes to help you quit smoking.

Image shows a person smoking tobacco but Quitting smoking is important to live longer, healthier life. Bruxism can be managed by undergoing treatment.
Quitting smoking is difficult but doable.

On the other hand, treatment of bruxism is multi-pronged as you need to remove the underlying cause along with treatment of current painful symptoms and protection of teeth and gums.

Thus, you may need mouth guards, muscle relaxing medications and even physiotherapy to relieve muscle pain.

Hence, both the habits require professional medical intervention which are preventive as well as protective in nature.


As per scientific studies, heavy smokers are two time more likely have teeth grinding habit then non-smokers. Thus, if you smoke then you are at a higher risk of bruxism.

Vice versa, if you have bruxism and start smoking the adverse effects become more severe. Thus, you should undergo treatment for both simultaneously.

References :

Rintakoski K, Ahlberg J, Hublin C, Lobbezoo F, Rose RJ, Murtomaa H, Kaprio J. Tobacco use and reported bruxism in young adults: a nationwide Finnish Twin Cohort Study. Nicotine Tob Res. 2010 Jun;12(6):679-83. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntq066. Epub 2010 Apr 28. PMID: 20427458; PMCID: PMC2878730.

Beklen A, Yildirim BG, Mimaroglu M, Yavuz MB. The impact of smoking on oral health and patient assessment of tobacco cessation support from Turkish dentists. Tob Induc Dis. 2021 Jun 10;19:49. doi: 10.18332/tid/136418. PMID: 34163316; PMCID: PMC8191570.

Published by StephyK

Dentist with years of experience in private dental hospitals.

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