Smoking Can Increase Your Risk of Developing Periodontal Disease

Everyone knows that smoking gives you bad breath, but not everyone is aware that it greatly increases your likelihood of developing periodontal disease. The facts and figures are compelling. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that for people aged 65 and above, smokers are 2x more likely to lose all their teeth compared to non-smokers.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that smokers tend to have poorer oral hygiene than non-smokers as they are perhaps less health-conscious. Smokers are more likely to have significant calculus deposits that can only be removed during a professional cleaning, and this can depend on whether or not a person is a pipe or a cigarette smoker. Some researchers have found that pipe smokers tend to have more significant deposits1 of supragingival calculus. There is speculation that this is due to the fact that pipe smoke is of a higher pH than cigarette smoke, and pipe smokers tend to keep the smoke in the mouth for longer and produce more saliva which contains calcium, exacerbating the deposits of calculus.

In addition, tobacco products affect the gingival tissue. In most early cases of gingival inflammation, the capillaries dilate, which increases the blood flow and often leads to the classic early warning sign of bleeding gums. In smokers, the capillaries within the gingival tissues tend to constrict which is possibly due to the irritating effect of nicotine. Heavy smokers who suffer from gingivitis might not exhibit as many symptoms as non-smokers as they can suffer from less gingival bleeding due to reduced blood flow.

Cigarette smoke may also affect oral bacteria, producing conditions more conducive to anaerobic plaque bacteria. In patients with advanced periodontal disease, smoking has been associated with deeper periodontal pockets and increased bone loss. A study by Mahuca2 and colleagues into a group of healthy male Spanish military recruits found non-smokers with aggressive periodontal disease were more likely to suffer from bleeding gums than smokers, but smokers suffering from the same condition were more likely to have a higher loss of periodontal attachment. Another study by Bergstrom et al3 found smokers were more likely to suffer from bone loss as well as loss of periodontal attachment.

Smokers receiving any type of dental treatment tend to heal more slowly and really need to quit the habit well before beginning treatment. It’s no good switching to smokeless tobacco as this has been found to be just as bad for oral health, causing gums to recede and increasing the chance of loss of bone and periodontal attachment. Periodontal disease is just one of many problems which occur more frequently in people who use tobacco products and is one more good reason for sticking to that New Year’s resolution to quit.

  1. Khan GJ, Salah-ud-Din MR, Marwat FM et al. Secretion of calcium in the saliva of long term tobacco users. J Ayub Med Col Abbott 2005; 17: 453-460.
  2. Mahuca G, Rosales I, Lacalle JR, Mahuca C, Bullon P. Effect of cigarette smoking on periodontal status of healthy young adults. J Perio 2000; 71: 73-78.
  3. Bergstrom L, Eliasson S, Preber H. Cigarette smoking and periodontal bone loss. J Perio1991; 62: 242-246.
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4 Responses to “Smoking Can Increase Your Risk of Developing Periodontal Disease”

  1. Smoking is injurious to health. It produce many harmful diseases and cancer is one of them. People should not do smoking if they really care for health. It decreases the living age of human. It badly affects our lungs. Your information will be helpful to know effects of smoking. Thanks for sharing and i will want to know more about smoking effects from you.

  2. Periodontal Disease are those diseases which are related to gum that includes pyorrhea and oral cancer, stained teeth and many more. Smoking is a polluted air which we intake by breathing and as it is a polluted air it is harmful for our lungs, heart and all other respiratory body-parts. Tobacco is a drug if a person will use it according to requirement, but its access can cause cancer in oral cavity.

  3. smoking is very harmful for oral health as it is for general health. It makes the tooth look patchy and black. You have very correctly mentioned here that it also causes periodontal problems, and periodontal diseases can even cause cardiac disorder. Very informative post!

  4. Just another reason to quit smoking! After being diagnosed with periodontal disease by my dentist in SW Calgary, I decided it was time to finally give up my horrible habit. Not only do my teeth and gums already look much nicer, my breath has never been better! I would definitely consider quitting smoking, if not for your oral health, for your overall health!

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