What is the connection between smoking and periodontal disease?
Smoking is widely known to have an adverse effect on your general health. When we think of smoking and its impact on your health, we usually think of lung cancer. However, smoking also has a part to play in several diseases of the mouth. Let’s look into this further, and see how smoking impacts your oral health directly.
A study published in the Journal of Periodontology, saw that people who smoke are four times more likely to get periodontal disease than non-smokers. This is because nicotine constricts your blood vessels, and the flow of blood to your mouth. This reduced blood flow impairs your gum tissue from fighting infection. Overtime, this can lead to periodontal disease.
Studies have found that tobacco use may be one of the biggest risk factors in the development of periodontal diseaseDr. Albert, Associate Professor, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a severe form of gum disease. Not only is there inflammation to your gums, it also affects the bone structure surrounding your gums. Periodontal disease in time can lead to the loss of teeth and can be very painful. According to the HSE, 50-90% of adults will have gum disease at some point in their life.
Signs of Periodontal Disease from Smoking
Periodontal disease in smokers is less obvious than in non-smokers. Gum disease in non smokers usually begins with telling signs such as gum redness, and swelling and bleeding of the gums. However, due to the reduction of blood to the mouth, these signs are less prevalent in smokers. Unfortunately, it can lead to smokers believing their mouth is healthy. Therefore, it is really important to get regular check-ups with your dentist to check for any signs of gum disease.
If your dentist confirms that you have periodontal disease, they will need to begin treatment immediately. The type of treatment you will need will depend on the severity of the gum disease. Due to the impact that smoking has on lowering your immune system, if you are still smoking during your treatment, it may not be as successful.
Smokers have much less gum bleeding and redness than other people even though their mouths are not healthy. This can lead to the false impression that the gums are healthyDr. Albert, Associate Professor, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.
The impact of Smoking on your Oral Health
- Research shows there are higher levels of two bacteria that are linked with tooth decay in smokers than in non-smokers. This bacteria is Lactobacillus spp. and Streptococcus mutans.
- Smoking impacts the functionality of your salivary glands, and means less saliva is produced in the mouth. This can lead to a build up of plaque on your teeth, which can cause gum disease.
- Smoking negatively impacts the immune system. This in turn reduces the healing capabilities in your body, and your mouth.
- Periodontal treatment will be less successful if you are still smoking.
Smoking and Oral Cancer
There has been many publications highlighting the link between smoking and oral cancer. Smokers have a significant higher chance of getting oral cancer than non-smokers.
Smoking is the number one risk factor in relation to oral cancer. If you are a smoker, make quitting a priority. For more information about oral cancer, its symptoms, and other risk factors, check out our blog in association with Mouth Cancer Awareness Day.
Other Mouth Conditions Caused by Smoking
- Stained/yellowed teeth
- Bad breath
- Dry Mouth
- Loss of taste
- Coated tongue
- Dental implant failure
We can’t stress the importance of quitting smoking. It is bad for your general health, as well as your oral health. There is help out there from organisations such as the HSE and Irish Cancer Society.
If you are worried that you may have periodontal disease from smoking, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.