Smoking and Gum Disease

Woman Smoking and Reading the Paper

At our West Linn family dental office, Dr. Dugger is always happy to explain to patients about how smoking ranks as the worst possible habit they have can when it comes to the health of their teeth and gums.

So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that a recent study has found that smoking actually ranks as the leading lifestyle factor that impacts the development of periodontal, or gum, disease. More surprisingly, however, was that the same study found that the second most destructive lifestyle habit the encouraged the progression of gum disease was actually not getting enough sleep at night.

“This study points out to patients that here are lifestyle factors other than brushing and flossing that may affect their oral health. Simple lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep, may help patient improve or protect their oral health,” says researchers from the American Academy of Periodontology, in a news release discussing the results of the study. “It is also important to keep these in mind as the body of evidence linking oral disease with systemic diseases continues to grow because ultimately these lifestyle factors might impact a patient’s overall health.”

Smoking’s Impact on Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, which impacts the long-term health of our teeth and gums and can lead to permanent tooth loss, is believed to be the result of an imbalance of oral bacteria.

Depending on the last time you brushed, your mouth could contain millions if not billions of bacterial strands. While most of this bacteria plays either a positive or neutral role in determining our oral health, some of the more harmful bacteria cause permanent damage if allowed to grow out of control. The reason brushing and flossing play such a vital role in the protection of our long-term oral health is because they help to balance oral bacteria.

But recent research has actually found that other important factors may also play a significant role.

In the recent study, researchers at Osaka University Graduate School of Dentistry followed 219 factory workers over a five-year period to examine the relationship between gum disease and a variety of lifestyle factors.

Researchers examined the impact different lifestyle factors had on the progression of gum disease among workers, including amount of sleep, tobacco use, alcohol use, mental stress, hours worked, dietary habits, and physical exercise.

Of all the lifestyle factors examined by researchers, smoking ranked as the most significant in impacting the progression of periodontal disease. The results of the study, published in the Journal of Periodontology, found that more than 41 percent of participants who suffered a worsening of their gum disease were smokers.

Receiving too little sleep at night was the second most important lifestyle factor impact gum disease progression with those who received seven to eight hours of rest a night showing significantly less gum disease progression when compared to study participants who received six or fewer hours a night.

The study also found that daily alcohol consumption and high stress levels also played a role on periodontal disease progression.

Protecting Your Oral Health

While most of us would happily sleep more if possible, quitting smoking ranks as an easy and incredibly effective way of helping to improve and protect your oral health. Even though difficult to do, quitting smoking offers innumerable advantages to both your long-term oral and overall health.



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