Smoking is said to « have no redeeming features ». In fact, tobacco smoke contains more than 2,000 harmful substances. The first thing that comes to mind might be how they affect your body, but they also negatively affect the mouth, which first comes into contact with the smoke! There’s actually a study that shows that the rate of periodontal disease in smokers is 2 to 8 times higher than in non-smokers (depending on quantity and number of years of smoking). Periodontal disease is also difficult to treat and tends to recur.
So much damage — adverse effects of smoking on the mouth
Harmful substances from tobacco are absorbed by the mucous membranes of the mouth and gums, which decreases immune function by reducing the function of white blood cells. The body’s ability to fight the periodontal disease bacteria weakens, leaving it more susceptible to periodontal disease and its progression.
Moreover, smoking constricts blood vessels and causes poor blood circulation, which also affects the gums. Periodontal disease doesn’t always cause bleeding or swelling, which means it can progress unnoticed.
There are also various other factors that cause periodontal disease. These include tar adhering to the teeth, which fosters the build-up of plaque, and saliva production decreasing, which causes dry mouth and decreases tooth remineralisation. Is knowing that tobacco can cause periodontal disease leading to tooth loss in the worst-case enough to get you to quit smoking?
Stop smoking to regain oral health
However, you may be wondering if it’s of any use to quit now that you’ve been smoking for a while. In fact, some studies* indicate that quitting smoking will allow your periodontal tissue to regain its innate immune response within several weeks, and appropriate treatment by a dentist will allow your gums to regain their original healthy condition.
Quitting smoking is very difficult, but you can start by cutting back even just a little. Of course, those who do smoke should brush their teeth properly! Strive to use oral care products to prevent periodontal diseases. Your bodily health will be thankful.
*Source: « Periodontal Disease and the Challenge of Smoking Cessation », Japanese Society of Periodontology