Advanced Periodontal Disease and Tooth Loss in Smokers
Quitting smoking can be very difficult to committing to, even if you know the health risks and potential benefits of giving up. Most people are all too well aware of the links of smoking to lung cancer and advanced periodontal disease, but one of the major problems with smoking is that it tends to mask the damage being caused to teeth and gums. Reduced blood flow in the inflammatory lesions of smokers makes it harder for the body to fight infection by reducing the flow of essential nutrients to damaged tissues. At the same time the body is also less able to transport toxins away from the infection site. Smoking makes it harder to see the damage being caused to gums, so if you have any signs of active gum disease, then these will be far less visible.
Other chemicals contained within the smoke will combine with plaque bacteria and this is dangerous because x-rays taken of smoker’s teeth often shows that the jawbone has begun to shrink away from their teeth. This damage can be difficult to detect, producing very few early warning signs of advanced periodontal disease.
Additionally, nicotine affects saliva, causing it to become thicker so it is less able to wash away acid created after eating. As a result heavy smokers can be more likely to suffer from tooth decay than non-smokers, even though they may practice good oral hygiene.
Developing Advanced Periodontal Disease
This is a major problem and as a top periodontist in Clearwater, Florida, Dr. Todd Britten is highly concerned when seeing patients who smoke. The likelihood of developing advanced periodontal disease or gum disease is six times higher in smokers. Periodontal disease is an extremely serious condition affecting not only the gums, but also the membranes and ligaments and bone supporting the teeth.
Will You Lose Your Teeth If You Have Periodontal Disease?
In advanced cases, Britten may have little choice but to extract teeth that have already become loose. Smoking masks one of the major signs of gum disease which is bleeding gums and as a result periodontal disease can be very advanced before a smoker notices there is something wrong with their dental health. Although diligent brushing and flossing may slow down deteriorating gums, it’s often difficult for smokers to thoroughly remove all the plaque from the teeth due to smoking decreasing sensations in the mouth, making it difficult for them to detect areas that may not have been properly brushed.
As a periodontist, Dr. Britten is a specialist in treating advanced periodontal disease and is able to provide patients with the very latest techniques and treatments to help slow down this condition. Where teeth are lost then one option is to replace them with dental implants, but smoking is not advisable during this treatment because it does slow down healing.
If you do currently smoke and value your smile, it’s worth thinking about quitting.