Smoking is like white sugar: it does no good and an awful lot of bad to your body, including your gums and teeth. In fact, estimates say that more than half the cases of periodontal disease can be attributed to smoking.
Smokers are four times more likely to develop advanced gum disease than those who have never smoked. Ultimately, this leads to tooth loss. Suffice it to say, if you’re a smoker who wants to keep all their natural teeth for as long as possible, kicking the habit is your best insurance policy.
For here’s the beautiful thing: with proper care and cleaning, diseased gums can return to a healthful state. In fact, after 11 years, there is generally no difference between the state of a smoker’s periodontal tissues and the gums of someone who has never smoked in their life.
But how does this happen?
According to new research by scholars at the Ohio State University College of Dentistry and Newcastle University School of Dental Sciences, the big difference-maker appears to be changes in the composition of the oral flora (microbes) that form biofilm on the teeth and infect below the gumline. After 6 and 12 months, major differences could be seen between microbes in the mouths of smokers and those who had managed to quit, relative to measurements taken at the beginning of the study.
Changes in bacterial levels contributed to this shift. These findings reveal a critical role for smoking cessation in altering the subgingival biofilm and suggest a mechanism for improved periodontal health associated with smoking cessation.
Yet another reason to ditch the cigs.