For many years it has been recognised that smoking tobacco has harmful effects on general health. In the mouth it is known that smoking is linked with white patches and oral cancer. In addition, research over the past 20 years has shown that cigarette smoking causes significant harm to the periodontal (gum) tissues.
Smoking and periodontal (gum) disease
The evidence shows that smokers:
- Have more severe gum disease than non-smokers, with deeper periodontal pockets and more loss of gum and bone support
- Have greater tooth loss
- Respond less well to all types of periodontal treatment
- Are more likely to suffer a return of periodontal problems
Surprisingly, smoking can disguise the superficial signs and symptoms of active gum inflammation such as bleeding, so smokers may be unaware that there is a problem.
Quitting tobacco smoking
The good news is that individuals who stop smoking can respond as well to periodontal treatment as non-smokers. Within a few months of quitting smoking the appearance and health of the gums improve with treatment. Quitting smoking is therefore beneficial.
Quitting smoking is very hard but you can see that it is crucial to achieving great gum health. We would like to encourage you to stop smoking as part of your periodontal therapy. Quitting should be a planned programme. Your GP practice may have trained stop smoking professionals. If you have any difficulty in finding such support, the Quitline (0800 00 22 00) or the NHS Quit smoking line (0800 169 0 169) can help you to find the right person in your area. Stop smoking support increases the success of quitting by four times. This is further doubled by the use of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and Zyban (bupropion). You can find more information at smokefree.nhs.uk and nosmokingday.org.uk.
Now take the next step
There are many good reasons to stop smoking. Not only will your general health improve but stopping smoking will improve your wellbeing and oral health. A better response to any periodontal treatment can be expected and a return of your periodontal problems is less likely to occur.
Please do not hesitate to ask us for further advice about the effects of tobacco smoking or for help in taking that important first step in quitting.