Smoking and Gum Health
By Chetan Patil, DDS PhD on September 26, 2018
It is no secret that tobacco products are harmful to your oral and overall health. But just how dangerous are they, and why do they pose such a threat?
Today, our doctors at Periodontal Associates in Englewood, NJ discuss smoking and gum health and explain how periodontal care can help you avoid oral health issues and protect your smile for years to come.
About Gum Disease
Before we look at the effects of smoking on gum health, we will briefly discuss periodontal disease. This condition is characterized by red, tender, swollen gums that may bleed when you brush or floss.
Every day, plaque deposits accumulate on the teeth. Unless plaque is removed routinely through proper brushing and flossing, oral bacteria will begin to feed off of it. As a result, the gums become irritated and inflamed, a condition known as gingivitis.
Essentially, gingivitis is the body’s natural inflammatory response to irritants along the gum line. If left untreated, this condition will progress into periodontitis.
At this stage, gum disease begins to erode the supporting bone and create deep pockets around the roots of the teeth. Advanced periodontal disease can cause a number of serious oral health issues, including mobility and even tooth loss.
How Does Smoking Affect Gum Health?
First of all, smoking shrinks the blood vessels and capillaries, decreasing blood supply to the gums. Second, tobacco use significantly weakens the body’s immune system. Therefore, smokers have a more difficult time fighting off infections, including gum disease. In fact, any form of tobacco use increases the risk for periodontal disease.
If you are a smoker:
- Your risk for gum disease is doubled compared to non-smokers.
- The risk for periodontal disease increases the more you smoke.
- Your risk for gum disease increases the longer you smoke.
- Periodontal treatments may not be as effective for you compared to non-smokers.
One research study conducted by Delta Dental found that over half of all cases of gum disease are attributed to tobacco use. The study also determined that:
- Individuals who smoke more than one and a half packs of cigarettes a day are about six times more likely to develop periodontitis.
- Those who smoke less than a half a pack of cigarettes every day are still three times more likely than non-smokers to have gum disease.
Preventing Gum Disease
The first step in preventing gum disease is to stop smoking. Not only will this improve your gum health, but your overall wellbeing too.
To significantly reduce the risk of gum disease, be sure you are brushing at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and ADA-accepted toothpaste. Floss once every day to remove plaque, tartar, and debris from between the teeth. Additionally, be sure to visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and examinations.
Treating Gum Disease
If you already have gum disease, we offer a number of periodontal treatments to eliminate infection and improve the health of your smile.
Mild to moderate periodontal disease can often be treated with non-surgical procedures, such as scaling and root planing. Advanced gum disease will require surgical intervention.
In any case, early treatment is ideal, as it can help prevent more serious issues from developing in the future.
Contact Periodontal Associates Today
To learn more, schedule an appointment at our practice. Call our office at (201) 567-7766 or contact us online anytime.
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“Dr. Patil and his staff could not be more professional. They take the time to talk to you and explain what will be done. I am constantly surprised at how little pain is associated with the procedures they perform.” Jack T.