1615 East Iron Avenue
Salina, KS 67401
Putnam, Bart W D.D.S.
16093 W 135th St # A
Olathe, KS, 66062-1507
Potter, Karen S D.D.S.
11201 Nall Ave # 130
Shawnee Mission, KS, 66211-1832
Colombo, Adam D.D.S.
7301 Mission Rd # 317
Prairie Village, KS, 66208-3032
Dr. Michael Richard D.D.S.
2702 Campus Dr.
Garden City, KS, 67846
The systemic risks of tobacco use are well known. Tobacco use can increase the risk for cancer, lung disease, and heart disease. But whether you smoke, dip, or chew tobacco, it also affects the oral cavity in a variety of ways. It contributes to oral cancer, stains the teeth, and contributes to tartar deposits, bad breath, and a loss of taste and smell.
Tobacco use causes inflammation of the soft tissues of the mouth, ulcers, recession, and other oral lesions. Tobacco users are two times more likely to develop periodontitis, and ten times more likely to develop acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG). They also are more likely to lose teeth than those who don't smoke. Smoking is the number one most significant risk factor in the development and progression of periodontal disease.
Tobacco smoking causes periodontal bone loss that is not related to the amount of gum inflammation or plaque accumulation. Although the periodontal disease may be advanced, the classical signs of gum inflammation (redness, bleeding gums, etc.) are not usually as evident in tobacco smokers. Thus, prevention and early detection are more difficult.
Tobacco smoking has a direct effect on the oral tissues and it can alter the immune response. Although smokers do benefit from periodontal treatment, the healing is often delayed and the results are less predictable. In addition, the success rates of periodontal and implant treatment are reduced in people who use tobacco products. The amount of complications is related to the amount of daily tobacco exposure, and the number of years the person has been exposed.
The use of tobacco products can increase the risk of periodontal disease:
1. It weakens the immune system: Tobacco products suppress the body's ability to fight infection. Carbon monoxide (a major byproduct of cigarette smoke) reduces oxygen concentration and inhibits the movement of white blood cells. This reduces the capacity of the white blood cells to fight bacteria (including the bacteria that cause periodontal disease), and delays healing.
2. It masks signs of infection: Tobacco reduces the ability of blood vessels to carry infection fighting cells, nutrients, and oxygen to the tissues. As a result, the typical signs of periodontal disease (redness, swelling, and bleeding of the gums) are masked. People who smoke may have periodontal disease that is harder to diagnose.
3. It increases calculus formation: Smoking can cause more calculus (tartar) accumulation that if not removed promptly can lead to more plaque build-up and periodontal disease.
4. It reduces healing: Nicotine and other chemicals can be absorbed directly by the root surfaces of the teeth and reduce the ability of cells to reattach to the root surface during healing.
Besides the obvious health benefits of discontinuing tobacco use, quitting can also reduce the risk of oral cancer and the detrimental effects of tobacco on the gums and bone that support the teeth. In addition, another incentive to stop smoking is that former smokers respond similarly to never smokers to periodontal treatment.
Because there is a physical and psychological addiction to tobacco, quitting can be very difficult. But millions of Americans quit smoking every year. There are aids available that reduce the craving for tobacco. These include the use of systemic medications, the nicotine patch, the nicotine gum, the nicotine inhaler, and the nasal spray. See your dentist or physician for aid in stopping tobacco use.
By Laura Minsk, DMD
According to information from the American Dental Association, three out of four Americans over age 35 have some form of periodontal disease, the major cause of tooth loss and bad breath (halitosis) in adults. Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease that, if left untreated, can progress to periodontitis, the loss of bone and tissues that support the tooth.
Periodontal disease has three stages, categorized by the extent of bone loss: mild moderate, and advanced. If only one or a few teeth are effected, it is localized. If all the teeth are involved, it is generalized.
Bacteria that accumulate at and below the gum line cause periodontitis. The bacteria release toxic substances that trigger the breakdown of the gum and bone. The body responds with an inflammatory response in which it essentially turns on itself and destructs the bone and tissues around the teeth. This is the body's way of warding off infectious agents.
When this happens the gum separates from the teeth, forming a gap called a periodontal pocket. If left untreated, periodontitis can lead not only to tooth loss but can also aggravate systemic illnesses. The signs of periodontitis may include:
Very often, however, people are not aware that they should see a periodontics professional because gum disease can progress without pain. It is possible to not exhibit warning signs and still have periodontitis. That is why it is very important to have routine periodontal screenings so that the early signs of the disease can be detected and treated before it becomes a major problem.
Periodontitis is treated in three phases. The first phase involves stopping the disease activity and progression of bone loss. The bacterial deposits (plaque and tartar) that formed above and underneath the gums need to be removed and the root surfaces of the teeth smoothed to enhance healing and deter future plaque retention.
This periodontal treatment is called scaling and root planing. During this phase, a dentist will review the patient's oral hygiene techniques, and give them advice on how to modify certain risk factors associated with periodontal disease.
If the periodontal disease is more advanced, surgical treatment may be needed. The purpose of this phase of periodontal treatment is to create an environment that is more amenable to health and, if possible, bring back some of the bone that was lost to the disease. In some forms of periodontitis, antibiotic treatment may be used. If this is the case, a bacterial culture may be required to test for harmful bacteria and to establish what antibiotics they are susceptible to.
Periodontal disease is a chronic condition that, like many others, has to be closely monitored, even after active treatment.
The third (maintenance) phase is crucial to the success of any periodontal treatment. Daily brushing and flossing is essential in controlling ever-developing plaque and bad breath, as is periodic periodontal maintenance care with a professional scaling of the teeth. Periodontal status will be closely monitored, so that changes can be identified and treated as early as possible.
Everyone should be routinely screened for periodontitis. All dentists are qualified in detecting and treating the early stages of periodontitis, but if an individual suspects that they are at risk, or they know they have gingivitis, they may want to see a periodontist who has advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal conditions.
By Laura Minsk, DMD