Everyone Knows They Should Quit Smoking. Here Are Some Specific Oral Health Related Reasons Why
Regarding Periodontal Disease
- The number one risk factor for chronic destructive periodontal disease is smoking.
- Smoking is associated with acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG), otherwise known as trench mouth. This aggressive bacterial infection destroys the gums and is also seen in HIV patients and soldiers who are subjected to long periods of combat stress.
- Smoking is associated with periodontal treatment failures and the relapse of oral disease.
- The nicotine in smoke decreases vascularity and blood flow to the gums which results in poor healing and nutrition.
- Smoking initiates a process of bone loss, attachment loss, pocket formation and eventually tooth loss.
- Smoking impairs the immune response to infection which allows periodontal infections to cause more damage.
- Smoking interferes with salivary flow, which reduces its antimicrobial property.
Cancer Related Risks
- Smoking can mutate and damage invaluable tumor suppressor genes. One known as p53, is sometimes called the “guardian of the genome”, because it can recognize a cell with damaged DNA (which in many cases becomes a cancer cell) and cause it to repair itself, self destruct (apoptosis) or stop multiplying.
- Immunosurveillance, the ability of the immune system to seek and destroy initial clones of cancer cells, is diminished in smokers.
- Tobacco use is estimated to account for over 90 percent of oral cancer deaths and often results in disfigurement to survivors, which in some cases creates a social death of its own.