The Link Between Smoking & Gum Disease

Smoking cigarettes is a major cause for concern among dentists and healthcare providers worldwide. Not only does smoking create a host of respiratory and cardiovascular health issues, but it wreaks havoc on oral health. According to the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, smoking is one of the leading causes for periodontal (gum) disease. Aside from seeing a dentist and/or periodontist, the best way to combat the issue is to get rid of what is causing it in the first place—quit smoking.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

If you are experiencing the following gum disease symptoms, it may be time to visit a dentist and/or periodontist for a checkup:

  • Gum recession
  • Red, puffy gums
  • Bleeding easily upon brushing and/or flossing
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth loss
  • Bone loss

It is important to note that not all cases of gum disease present with noticeable symptoms. Therefore, it is important that people who smoke visit the dentist at least every six months (or as recommended by your dentist) to ensure proper oral health.

Signs That Instill False Confidence

Due to the effects that cigarette smoking has on the mouth, it can be easy for gum disease to disguise itself. Often times, smoking will cause the following symptoms:

  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased circulation to the gums due to blood vessel constriction
  • Gums that appear pink, or “healthy” – even when they may not be

The nicotine in cigarettes causes the blood vessels to constrict and reduce the blood flow to the organs—including the gums. While the gums may appear pink, firm and healthy, this could be due to the fact that the blood isn’t able to reach the gums enough to cause inflammation. Therefore, even if the gums of a smoker were infected, it is highly possible that the smoker would not be able to tell.

Inflammation After Quitting

Without nicotine in the blood to restrict circulation, blood flow would return to normal and may increase in areas of infection. Thus, if a smoker that has recently quit is experiencing gum inflammation, there is a chance that gum disease is present. The only way to know for sure is to see a dentist and/or periodontist for a thorough examination.

Advanced DDS is a premiere dental office with highly trained providers that have been serving the tri-state area for over 30 years. Schedule your dental appointment for a thorough cleaning and examination at 516-825-1100.


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