Smoking and Gum Disease

You may know that quitting smoking can significantly reduce your risk of getting cancer, but did you know quitting smoking can also have significant benefits for gums?

According to researchers, tobacco use is one of the primary risk factors for gum disease (also called periodontal disease).

What Is Gum Disease?

The short answer is that it is an infection in the gums. If left untreated, gum disease can eventually damage the bones and tissue that hold your teeth in place resulting in tooth loss.

Gum disease begins when bacteria that are on the teeth make their way beneath the gum line. If these bacteria are not removed, they become a film called plaque. Once plaque hardens into tartar (also called calculus), a visit to the dentist is needed to remove it.

If tartar is allowed to remain below the gum line for too long, the gums become irritated and inflamed. This is called gingivitis and is the precursor to gum disease. If gingivitis is not treated quickly enough, infection sets in.

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The Role of Smoking in Gum Disease Development

Smoking can affect the body in many different ways and increases the risk of gum disease. For example, smoking can weaken immune system function. This can make it tougher to keep an infection from forming in the gums. It also makes it more difficult for your body’s natural healing abilities to help the gums recover from a bout with gum disease.

What factors determine the risk a smoker faces when it comes to gum disease?

  • Smoking – Smoking at all doubles your risk.
  • Frequency – Gum disease risk increases the more a person smokes.
  • Time – The more years you have been smoking, the greater the risk becomes.

With this in mind, the faster you quit, the better your chances are of keeping gum disease at bay or recovering from it. This is especially true since smoking can hinder the effectiveness of gum disease treatment.

Please note that it is not only smoking cigarettes that increase the risk of gum disease. Whether a person smokes cigarettes, uses a pipe, or chews smokeless tobacco, the risk increases. In fact, tooth loss rates are about equal for those who smoke pipes versus those who smoke cigarettes. Chewing tobacco not only increases the risk of gum disease but also increases the risk of receding gums.

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Stop Gum Disease Before It Starts

The best way to protect the Skin of Your Teeth® (AKA your gums) is to stop smoking right away. You can also take the following preventative measures:

  • Bush at least twice each day.
  • Floss daily to keep tartar from forming below the gum line.
  • Keep your dental checkup and cleaning appointments.

PeriClean is happy to help support you on your journey to a healthier mouth by providing the highest quality in ultra-soft toothbrushes. PeriClean does not prevent nor treat gum diseases. Use a PeriClean ultra-soft toothbrush to clean your teeth as part of an active effort to avoid receding gums.