Smoking causes gum disease leading to ultimate tooth loss

Smoking is still very popular today and it does not look like it will go away anytime soon. While the warnings of cancer have been touted for a long time, many people are not yet aware that another one of the dangers of smoking is that it will also cause them to lose their pretty smile. It will cause smokers to lose teeth.


The Statistics

If you smoke, there is twice as much risk that you will lose more teeth than a non-smoker. Non-smokers tend to lose teeth at a rate of 1.3 teeth every 10 years. Smokers lose teeth faster – at a rate of 2.9 teeth every 10 years. This rate is true of men and women. Once an individual quits smoking, the risk of losing teeth will decrease.


The Reason

Teeth are lost as a result of smoking because of the effect that nicotine has on the gums. It is believed that nicotine reduces the flow of blood into the gums by restricting the blood vessels. This affects the gums in two ways. First, it means that the gums will receive less oxygen; and secondly, it means that as a result, the gums will also receive fewer nutrients.


With less oxygen and nutrients, your gum's immune system cannot be as effective. In fact, the cells in the gums will start dying off causing them to recede. The weakened immune system cannot fight off infection as effectively, which means that when you receive any dental treatment or other injuries to the gums that it will take longer to heal. You also become much more susceptible to gum disease.


Gum Disease

Gum disease starts by irritation of the gums from the bacteria naturally found in your mouth and from the acid it produces. The bacteria get into the gums and it starts an immune reaction. The only two symptoms that will be seen at first are inflamed gums and gums that bleed. This is gingivitis.


With the lower resistance from your immune system, the gum disease will quickly become periodontitis. Before long the immune system starts to attack your gums, the ligaments that support your teeth, and your jawbone. Periodontitis will spread fast and become worse than in a non-smoker.


As the attack continues, your teeth will start to become loose. Gum disease is largely painless until your teeth start to get loose. At that point, it will be painful to bite down with that tooth.


Men vs. Women

Men who smoke are typically going to lose a not notice early on that you have gum disease. This will enable it to do more damage to your gums and jawbone.


Your dentist may also not notice that you have gum disease. This could lead the dentist to not realize how serious the problem is, which may mean that treatment may not be given – leading to worse problems and greater tooth loss.


Other Potential Risks

In recent years, researchers have discovered that there is yet another nasty side to gum disease. They have found that the damage from gum disease can affect all of your organs. Once the bacteria and inflammation get into your gums, it has access to your bloodstream. Now it can go anywhere in your body.


As it travels through your bloodstream, it tends to build up in your blood vessels and various organs. This buildup can cause many serious illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, dementia, several types of cancer, and many more.


Cancer Risk

Another one of the risks of smoking is that of developing oral cancer. The weakened immune system cannot fight cancer cells as easily as they would in a healthy mouth, possibly leading to oral cancer. This type of cancer normally spreads fast and they are not always easily detected. Early detection is important to increased survivability rates.


Reversing the Risk

Studies have discovered that the more you smoke, the more teeth you are going to lose. Those who smoke heavily are going to lose more teeth than those people who smoke less. Once you stop smoking, your risk can decrease rather fast, possibly even reducing your risk to the same level as someone who never smoked – but reaching that level could take ten years.


If you are a smoker and are looking for gum disease treatment for periodontitis, as well as help with cavities, you can get help from Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist. He also provides oral cancer screening and can help you recover a beautiful smile in his Carrollton, TX, and Grapevine, TX offices. Most dental health plans are accepted. For a consultation or dental checkup, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578

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