Current Oral Health Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 78–87 | Cite as

Effects of Nicotine on Oral Microorganisms, Human Tissues, and the Interactions between Them

  • Dawn R. Wagenknecht
  • AbdulRahman AbuBaker BalHaddad
  • Richard L. GregoryEmail author
Microbiology (M Klein, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Microbiology



Recent findings on the effects of smoking and nicotine on oral microorganisms and on microbial interactions with human cells were reviewed. A PubMed search identified recent publications in English that addressed the effects of smoking and nicotine on oral microorganisms: growth, biofilm formation, plaque composition, enzyme regulation, and cross-species interactions. Interactions of tobacco-exposed microbes with human tissues are also discussed.

Recent Findings

Smoking alters the oral microbiome. Nicotine increases the pathogenicity of oral microorganisms, either by increasing expression of virulence factors or by increasing the amount of biofilm formed. Nicotine affects human cells via nicotine acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), and the prokaryote homolog may explain how nicotine affects microbial cells. Interactions of nicotine exposed microbial and human tissues likely contribute to cardiovascular disease.


The evidence supports the destructive oral and systemic effects of smoking and nicotine exposure, leading to development or exacerbation of dental caries, periodontitis, stomatitis, and heart diseases.


Streptococcus mutans Porphyromonas gingivalis Biofilm Dental caries Periodontal disease Smoking 



We thank Taylor Dietl, Nasreen El-ezmerli, Jennifer Foltz, Reed A. McKinney, Nicole Shepherd, Emily Taylor, and Cunge Zheng for experimental data. Support provided by Franciscan Health Indianapolis, Indiana, USA (DRW) and the University of Dammam, Saudi Arabia (AAB).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dawn R. Wagenknecht
    • 1
  • AbdulRahman AbuBaker BalHaddad
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard L. Gregory
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical and Applied SciencesIndiana University School of DentistryIndianapolisUSA
  2. 2.Restorative Dental Sciences Department, College of DentistryUniversity of DammamDammamSaudi Arabia

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