Smoking and Periodontal Disease

Many people are aware of the effects smoking can have on their lungs and other organs. However, many do not realize the link between smoking and periodontal disease and the damage it can do to your gums. According to the Centers for Disease Control, smokers are at twice the risk of developing gum disease than non-smokers.[1] The more you smoke, the more your risk increases. To better understand the connection, let’s take a look at what periodontal disease is and how smoking affects the gums.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums that can affect the bone that supports your teeth. It starts when bacteria on your teeth get in between your gums and teeth. When the bacteria stay on your teeth, it starts to form plaque and tartar. This early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis.[1]

When gum disease progresses, the gums start to separate from the teeth, and the pockets that form get infected. This stage of gum disease referred to as periodontitis, is more advanced. It can lead the bone and gum tissue that hold your teeth to break down, possibly leading to tooth loss.

What is the Link Between Smoking and Periodontal Disease?

Smoking can lead to periodontal disease because it affects the bone and soft tissue surrounding your teeth. Smoking impacts gum tissue cells and weakens the body’s immune system. When someone smokes, toxins enter the bloodstream and spread to cells throughout the body. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to the gum tissues which can impact how long it takes for the gums to heal. Smokers who have periodontal disease often notice that treatments take longer to work because of this.[2]

What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?

If you’re a smoker, you may notice some of the symptoms of periodontal disease. [3] These include:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Bleeding while brushing
  • Gums that start to pull away from the teeth
  • Mouth sores
  • Bad breath
  • Pus between the gum and teeth
  • Loose or separating teeth

If you start to experience any of those symptoms, it’s best to see a periodontist for an examination to determine what is going on.

Treating Smokers with Periodontal Disease

If you have early signs of periodontal disease, getting regular dental cleanings while brushing and flossing yourself can help. But, if your condition has progressed into periodontitis, you may need more in-depth treatment.[1] This treatment can include:

  • Surgery to remove tartar that has formed under the gums
  • Deep cleaning below the gum line
  • Surgery to help heal bone due to periodontitis

Of course, quitting smoking is highly recommended if you have periodontal disease so that the condition does not worsen and treatments have a better chance of working.

Contact a Rochester Periodontist Today

At Dental Implants & Periodontal Health of Rochester, Dr. Zahavi and Dr. Rapoport are experienced and trained in different techniques to help people suffering from periodontal disease. He offers a wide variety of services to help people improve their oral health. If you suspect you are developing periodontal disease, call the office today at 585.685.2005 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.







Board Certified Periodontist

Dr. Thomas Zahavi is a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology. He completed his post-graduate periodontal education at the Eastman Dental Center at the University of Rochester in 2006.

Dr. Zahavi obtained his combined DMD and Master’s degree Summa Cum Laude from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1997). He then pursued a speciality program in Prosthodontics (the restoration and replacement of teeth), receiving the highest honors in the residency program (2001). In 2003 he relocated with his family to the USA in pursuit of a residency program in Periodontology at the University of Rochester/ Eastman Institute for Oral Health. He was awarded a Certificate of Excellence from the American Academy of Periodontology Foundation and honored with a research fellowship from a major dental implant company. He is a Board-Certified Periodontist (USA) and Prosthodontist (Israel). His clinical experience and training in the two specialities proves to be invaluable, especially in patients requiring comprehensive periodontal and implant treatments.

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