It has been common knowledge for many years now that smoking can lead to gum disease, but how does this happen? Currently, there are several theories surrounding the mechanisms by which gum disease may be triggered by smoking. Firstly, restricted oxygen delivery to the gums may be caused by blood vessels constricting in response to the tobacco smoke and nicotine found in cigarettes. In addition, a recent study has shown that smokers themselves are more likely to be infected with bacteria that his highly aggressive and effective in causing gum disease. Finally, it has been proven that the excessive consumption of cigarettes can lead to a depressed immune system, one that is less able to fight off infections as and when they occur, leading to a dangerous build up of bacteria in the oral cavity.
Gum disease manifests itself in several different ways, but the most common symptoms are gum recession, bleeding gums, bad breath, inflammation of the gums and loose teeth. If you are found to be suffering from any or a mixture of these symptoms there are treatments available. Treatment can either be via a non-surgical root planning procedure, in which your dentist will scrape away the diseased gum tissue to remove the bacteria or a surgical therapy to eliminate disease pockets by removing all of the infected gum tissue.
For smokers in the City of Leeds this may serve as a wake-up call. The current prevalence of smokers in the city is 30%, that’s 175,000 individuals at the highest risk of developing gum disease.
Luckily there is also good news; it has been found that former smokers respond better to treatment of this disease than those who currently still smoke. Therefore, it can be concluded that patients with gum disease who stop smoking prior to their therapy will respond and recover much better than if they chose to continue to feed their habit.