Most smokers are aware of the dangers tobacco use can have on their health.  Tobacco is widely associated with lung cancer, lung disease, heart disease, and low-birth-weight infants.  However, most smokers aren’t aware of their increased risk of gum disease as a result of their tobacco use.  Research shows that smokers are almost twice as likely to loose teeth than nonsmokers. 

Why It’s Time to Quit

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, tobacco use is one of the most significant risk factors for developing, and the progression of, periodontal disease.  Smokers are more likely to develop the following problems than nonsmokers:

  1. Smokers are more likely to have calculus.  Calculus is plaque that hardens on your teeth and can only be removed during a professional cleaning.  If it isn’t periodically removed, the bacteria in the calculus will destroy gum tissue and cause your gums to pull away from your teeth.  As gums pull away from the teeth the deeper the pockets around your teeth become. 
  2. The deep pockets that form around your teeth and gums are a hotbed for bacteria.  These disease-causing bacteria will deepen the pockets around your teeth and eventually lead to bone loss in the jaw.
  3. Loss of the bone and tissue that support your teeth will result in loose teeth that may have to be removed. 

Those who continue smoking, even after receiving treatment for their periodontal disease, have been shown to heal poorly and slowly.  The chemicals in the tobacco can slow down the healing process making periodontal treatment results unpredictable. 

Not Just Cigarettes

All tobacco products are dangerous to your oral health.  One study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that cigar and pipe smokers experienced tooth loss and bone loss at the same rate as cigarette smokers.  All tobacco users are at a higher risk for:

  • Oral Cancer
  • Bad Breath
  • Stained Teeth
  • Bone Loss
  • Loss of Taste
  • Less Success with Periodontal Treatment
  • Less Success with Dental Implants
  • Gum Recession
  • Mouth Sores
  • Facial Wrinkling, especially around the mouth

Quitting Can Save Your Smile

For many, quitting smoking today can vastly improve your oral health.  In fact, smoking is the largest preventable risk factor for periodontal disease. It is estimated that more than half the cases of periodontitis in the US can be attributed to tobacco use1.  Quitting today is vital to preventing periodontal disease!

However, if you are currently a smoker and have diagnosed periodontal disease then all is not lost. Quitting smoking before beginning treatment for your periodontal disease can greatly improve the results of your periodontal treatment. 

1. Tomar, SL. and Asma, S. Smoking-attributable periodontitis in the United States: Findings from NHANES III, J. Perio.71:742-750; 2000.