More research keeps coming out about the dangers of smoking to health. Gum disease is another area, where smoking can have a negative effect. I’ve included three studies below that confirm this assertion and gives further details about how and to what extent smoking can damage your gums
A meta-analysis of 6 studies comparing non-surgical periodontal treatment between three different groups: smokers, non-smokers and those that quit smoking. They looked at how the patients responded to periodontal treatment in the following ways:
1. How well the gums were attached to the teeth surfaces (attachment level)
2. Pocket depth.
They found that smokers had an 80% higher risk for periodontitis than non-smokers and those that quit smoking. Both the non-smokers and those that quit smoking had better attachment levels and decreased pocket depth than those that smoke – after the periodontal treatment. So if you smoke, quitting offers new hope in improving gum disease. Put in another way, you can reduce your chances of getting periodontitis and improve the outcome of non-surgical periodontal therapy.
A recent Swedish study studied how smoking affects gum pocket healing. Smokers and non-smokers who received non-surgical gum treatment to reduce gum pockets greater than 4mm, showed a difference in healing and depth reduction. The treatment in non-smokers reduced the gum pocket depth by 75%. Smokers improved also, but only by 51%. Researchers also found smokers and non-smokers had different reductions in plaque formation. Non-smokers had a 69% reduction in plaque, while smokers had a 53% reduction. So while dental intervention on gum disease, such as gum pocket reduction is effective, smokers benefit less. They also show a reduced oral immune response, which allows a greater amount of plaque to form. Scientists need to perform more studies to see if quitting smoking improves gum pocket healing and other healing parameters.
While study after study confirms smoking increases your risk of cancer, one study showed a surprising result. Those that smoked and had precancerous lesions, had a lower incidence of those lesions becoming cancer versus non-smokers. The researchers theorized that when non-smokers get mouth lesions, they are more likely due to a genetic predisposition. They actually found a number of genetic markers to cancer that collaborate this finding. When smokers show mouth lesions, they are more likely due to the smoking. So, in this particular type of cancer, genetic predisposition had a stronger link to developing cancer as compared to smoking as a cause. So while quitting smoking, or never smoking at all still proves one of the best things you can do to keep yourself healthy, other factors like genetics can play a role in determining health outcomes.
The bottom line: if you smoke, quit. Your gums will heal faster and you'll have a healthier mouth.