Smoking Risk and Periodontal Disease

Blonde woman smoking a cigarette and blowing smokePeriodontal disease, frequently called gum disease, is the result of a bacterial infection. It occurs when a significant number of bacteria build up on your teeth. The bacteria irritate the gums, which causes them to become inflamed. Without immediate treatment, periodontal disease only continues to worsen, leading to periodontal pockets, gum recession, loss of the supporting structures around your teeth, and even tooth loss. Taking good care of your mouth is essential for preventing this devastating oral disease. However, neglecting your oral hygiene is not the only factor that increases your risk for periodontal disease. Smoking can also greatly increase your risk. Southern Arizona Periodontics is here to help.

Increased Plaque and Tartar

Plaque is a sticky substance that naturally accumulates on the surfaces of your teeth throughout the day. Plaque can collect bacteria, which can not only lead to the formation of tooth decay but can also irritate your gums. When left on the surfaces of your teeth for too long, plaque can turn into tartar, a calcified substance that cannot be removed, no matter how much you brush. Tartar is rough in texture, allowing it to easily collect more plaque and bacteria. When you smoke, plaque is stickier, which leads to increased plaque and tartar buildup.

Effects of Smoking on the Gums

When you smoke, your blood flow is slowed. Smoking also limits the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream. To remain healthy, your gums require nutrients. However, when your blood flow is slowed, the delivery of these essential nutrients is also slowed, which can increase your risk of developing gum disease. Smoking affects your immune system, which can make it harder for your body to fight off infections. Those who smoke also tend to develop deeper periodontal pockets and experience greater gum recession when periodontal disease occurs.

Smoking and Your Jawbone

When periodontal pockets form, plaque, and bacteria can accumulate below the gum line, the bacteria then begin to attack the periodontal ligaments and jawbone. Because smokers tend to experience deeper periodontal pockets, this allows for more plaque and bacteria to accumulate. This can accelerate the destruction of the periodontal ligaments and jawbone, which leads to bone loss. As you lose bone mass, your teeth become unstable and shift out of alignment, which affects your bite, your oral health, and your smile. With the loss of bone mass, you are also at an increased risk of tooth loss, or the need to have teeth extracted.

Smoking and Periodontal Disease Treatment

When periodontal disease develops, getting treatment right away is essential. If you smoke, however, this can impact the effectiveness of your treatment. Smoking slows the ability of your body to heal. Smoking during periodontal disease treatment can lead to issues such as infections. Your treatment may not be effective at all, and periodontal disease can continue to ravage your oral health. Smoking can also increase your risk of developing periodontal disease again, even if your treatment was successful.

If you currently smoke, your risk for developing periodontal disease, along with other oral health issues, is much higher than someone who does not smoke or use tobacco products. For more information on how smoking impacts your oral health, tips on quitting, or to schedule your consultation, call Southern Arizona Periodontics today at 520-322-9300.