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Smoking and Gum Disease by the Numbers

Posted Dec 18 2009 6:04am 2 Comments

The relationship between smoking and periodontitis (gum disease) has been known for a long time. But some may wonder, just how strong of a relationship is it?

Research published earlier this year in Oral Health and Preventive Dentistry offers some numbers.

The study, “Smoking and Periodontal Disease: Clinical Evidence for an Association,” looked at 165 individuals, with 35.7% being current smokers and 35.2% having peridontitis. Statistical analysis showed that current smokers were 11 times more likely to have gum disease. Former smokers were shown to be 9 times more likely. The authors further suggest,

The number of current smokers with periodontitis might be reduced by 80%, had they not smoked cigarettes. Of the subjects with periodontitis, 64% could be prevented among current smokers by eliminating tobacco consumption.

And why does periodontal disease matter? If left untreated, it ultimately leads to bone and tooth loss.




But it also has broader implications. Periodontal disease has been linked with a wide range of physical illnesses including diabetes (according to one recent study, over 90% of people with gum disease are at risk for diabetes), heart disease and stroke. Associations also have been found between gum disease and dementia.

Like so many other dental and oral conditions, then, it’s not just about the mouth but the body, the human organism, as a whole. It’s also largely preventable. And if damage has already been done, at least some of it may be reversible. But it all hinges on first stopping the progression of disease – which, for smokers, starts with ditching the cigs.


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Posted in dental health, dentistry, preventive dentistry Tagged: cigarettes, gingivitis, gum disease, periodontitis, smoking
Comments (2)
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