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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Jean-Claude Kharmouche, DMD
Tobacco Use and Periodonal Disease/Oral Cancer
NOVA Perio Specialists

Tobacco Use and Periodonal Disease/Oral Cancer

Understand the Dangers
Surprising as it may sound, many smokers need to be made more aware of the dangers of tobacco use. In fact, just 29 percent of smokers say they believe themselves to be at an above-average risk for heart attack compared with their nonsmoking peers.
Obviously, while information about the medical problems associated with smoking such as lung disease, cancer, heart disease and low-birth-weight infants is widely available, many smokers seem to have tuned out.
Time to Quit
The American Academy of Periodontology hopes to help educate the public about one specific threat to smokers periodontal disease. Recent studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease. In addition, following periodontal treatment or any type of oral surgery, the chemicals in tobacco can slow down the healing process and make the treatment results less predictable.
How does smoking increase your risk for periodontal disease? As a smoker, you are more likely than nonsmokers to have the following problems
Calculus plaque that hardens on your teeth and can only be removed during a professional cleaning
Deep pockets between your teeth and gums
Loss of the bone and tissue that supports your teeth
If the calculus is not removed during a professional cleaning, and it remains below your gum line, the bacteria in the calculus can destroy your gum tissue and cause your gums to pull away from your teeth. When this happens, periodontal pockets form and fill with disease-causing bacteria.
If left untreated, periodontal disease will progress. The pockets between your teeth and gums can grow deeper, allowing in more bacteria that destroy tissue and supporting bone. As a result, the gums may shrink away from the teeth making them look longer. Without treatment, your teeth may become loose, painful and even fall out.
Save Your Smile
Research shows that smokers loose more teeth than nonsmokers do. In fact, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 20 percent of people over age 65 who have never smoked are toothless, while a whopping 41.3 percent of daily smokers over age 65 are toothless.
In addition, research shows that current smokers dont heal as well after periodontal treatment as former smokers or nonsmokers. But these effects are reversible if the smokers kick the habit before beginning treatment.
Not Just Cigarettes
Other tobacco products are also harmful to your periodontal health. Smokeless tobacco also can cause gums to recede and increase the chance of losing the bone and fibers that hold your teeth in place.
Other Oral Problems
Researchers also have found that the following problems occur more often in people who use tobacco products
Oral cancer
Bad breath
Stained teeth
Tooth loss
Bone loss
Loss of taste
Less success with periodontal treatment
Less success with dental implants
Gum recession
Mouth sores
Facial wrinkling
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