How smoking affects your gums
Major scientific studies conclusively show smoking to be the most significant modifying (risk) factor in the development and progression of periodontal disease. In particular, smoking adversely affects (compromises) the healing capacity of the periodontal tissues in the following ways:
- Narrows or constricts the blood vessels compromising the vascular supply, limiting the amount of oxygen.
- Makes the collagen (the major building-block protein in the gums, bone and skin) less elastic, supple, and more fibrotic and scar-like. This compromises the capacity of the gums to heal properly, including their ability to reattach back onto the root surface. Smokers generally have more skin wrinkles and more fibrotic gums.
- Reduces the healing capacity by interfering with the function of the white blood cells
Research shows former smokers heal as well as those who have never smoked. Thus the negative affect of ‘poor healing’ is reversible if smokers kick the habit before treatment. We strongly recommend smokers quit their habit before undergoing comprehensive periodontal treatment. Some options for assistance quitting include the quit line (PH: 137 848 ), or some new medications which have reported 98%+ success rate in smokers successfully quitting their habit. These medications are only provided through prescription via a medical GP. If you would like to look at this option, please consult with your GP.
Not just tobacco
There is limited research on this illegal drug, but marijuana taken in all methods is considered to have an even greater detrimental effect on the periodontal tissues than tobacco. The THC chemical has been shown to adversely affect the part of the immune system which deals with plaque-induced inflammation.
Cardiovascular disease is one of Australia’s leading killers among both men and women. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease which deteriorates gum tissue and can affect the bones which support your teeth. Periodontal disease affects nearly 75% of Australians, with approximately 10% experiencing advanced severity. The rate for both cardiovascular and periodontal disease is very high, however research suggests there is a link between the two, and if symptoms of one disease is contained, you may also reduce the risk of developing the other disease.
Our periodontist, Dr Adrian Hoffman, explains “Inflammation is a major risk factor for heart disease, and periodontal disease may increase the inflammation level throughout the body.”
Several studies have also shown patients with periodontal disease have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. One study reported oral bacteria being lodged within atheroma clots which occluded coronary arteries, leading to a heart attack. More research is required to determine whether this association is a result of ‘true causality’. This paper can be read free at the Journal of Periodontology Online