The Smoking Gun of Gum Disease
Have dental professionals uncovered the smoking gun of gum disease? The truth is, gum disease (periodontitis) is caused by a number of well-known factors; however, there is one activity that pretty much guarantees that you will get periodontitis – smoking.
Every day, 100 Canadians die from smoking-related diseases and it’s not just the smokers themselves that are affected. This high number also includes non-smokers that are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke.
Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, approximately 70 of which are known carcinogens. When you smoke, you are bathing your body in arsenic, formaldehyde, nickel and lead – to name just a few of the many toxic compounds. This means you, or the person inhaling the second-hand smoke, can experience a gamut of problems such as asthma, COPD, heart disease and premature death.
As dentists, we see first-hand the devastation smoking causes in your mouth. Smoker’s yellow teeth are very unattractive. Plaque builds up faster in a smoker’s mouth and they are also more susceptible to leukoplakia and oral cancers. If a smoker needs a tooth pulled or oral surgery, healing time is dramatically increased. The success of dental implants declines and inflammation abounds. Remember, these ailments may affect those that breathe in second-hand smoke too!
Like most people in the early stages of gum disease, smokers may not realize they are affected until it is too late. What may be just a toothache or some blood in the sink when you brush can quickly progress to aggressive periodontitis that causes the irreversible loss of bone from your gums.
Additionally, gum disease has been linked to heart disease, which means smokers (already a high-risk heart disease group) are doubling their risk.
The best thing you can do for your health as a smoker is to stop. Much of the damage done to your body and gums by smoking can be reversed or managed when you give up the nasty habit.
The second best thing you can do is to visit your dentist.
Smokers should see their dentists more than twice a year. This way the dentist can watch for flare ups and emerging problems. Early detection of gum disease is key in the ability to successfully treat it, especially when ongoing smoking is an issue.
Family members in households where one or more people smoke indoors should also book more frequent screenings as they are at a higher-than-normal risk for gum disease.
The dangers of smoking are well documented. It is extremely damaging to every organ of your body, it can cause aggressive periodontitis and it puts the innocent people you smoke around at risk. We understand that it can be difficult to quit smoking, but it is not impossible. Medication and programs have been very successful in breaking people of this habit. With effort and determination, you and your loved ones can dramatically improve your health – just by giving up tobacco.
We urge all members of households where smoking is present to book an appointment with your dentist today. Smoking causes enough problems. Don’t let inflamed gums or oral bone loss be one of them.
Smile Dental Centre offers a full range of dental services backed by outstanding patient care for children and adults. Smile Dental Centre won the Consumer Choice Award four years in a row (2013 – 2016) for general and cosmetic dentistry in the London, ON region. Now that’s something to smile about!