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Effects of Smoking on the Gums

Many people probably know that smoking can change the color of teeth and stain them. However, it is not the only dental problem associated with smoking. According to research, smoking tobacco and electronic cigarettes is one of the biggest risk factors for gum disease. In this article, we will discuss the effects of smoking on the gums.

Effects of Smoking on the Gums

Smoking is harmful for the whole body, and it also has negative effects on teeth and gums. In fact, smoking is considered one of the biggest risk factors for developing gum disease. Sugars and irritants contained in tobacco affect the tissues in the mouth in an extremely negative way. On top of that, smoking undermines the immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off gum disease once it occurs.

The complications of smoking in relation to gums include:

  • Receding gums
  • Gum infection leading to gum disease
  • Excessive buildup of plaque on the teeth that eventually leads to gum disease
  • Precancerous lesions in the mouth (especially can be caused by chewing tobacco)
  • Slower healing of the gums after treatments and dental surgeries
  • Increased risk of dental implant failure
  • Loss of support for the teeth that leads to tooth loss

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease can also be referred to as a periodontal disease. It typically starts as gum infection and as it progresses, it can negatively affect the teeth and the bone structure that supports them. Untreated gum disease can also lead to tooth loss due to the breaking down of the supporting bone and tissue.

Gingivitis—early gum disease—starts with plaque and bacteria buildup on the teeth that then get under the gums, causing infection. With time, gum recession occurs, meaning that gums pull away from the teeth. At that stage gingivitis turns into periodontitis—severe gum disease.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

The signs that smoking has already started affecting your gums might include:

  • Your gums are red or swollen
  • Your gums feel tender or sore
  • Your gums bleed
  • You notice that your gums are receding from your teeth
  • You experience pain when chewing food
  • Your teeth are sensitive to hot, cold, and air
  • You have loose teeth

If you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your periodontist as soon as possible. The earlier you start treating gum disease, the more chances you have of saving your teeth. Needless to say, continuing to smoke will only increase the severity of the case and significantly decrease the effectiveness of treatment. Quitting smoking is hard, but it is necessary if you want to keep your teeth and treat gum disease successfully.

Treatment of Gum Disease

Periodontics in DTLA treat gum disease both with surgical and non-surgical methods depending on the severity of the case and on each patient’s needs, health conditions, and dental health history. Non-surgical methods of treatment include:

  • Scaling or root planning
  • Oral hygiene optimization and oral health maintenance (professional deep cleaning under the gum line, etc.)
  • Prescribing pharmaceutical supplements

Surgical treatment of gum disease might consist of:

  • Resective therapy
  • Generative therapy
  • Laser therapy
  • Surgical removal of tartar from under the gums
  • Surgical procedures aimed at restoring the bone or tissue (receding gum treatment, guided tissue regeneration, soft tissue grafting, cosmetic gum sculpting, guided tissue restoration, etc.)

Gum Disease Prevention

Once the disease occurs, it has to be treated professionally as soon as possible. But there are certain steps you can follow to prevent the periodontal disease:

  • Quit smoking or chewing tobacco to remove the gum disease risk factors and to improve the immune system
  • Maintain proper oral hygiene: brush and floss your teeth thoroughly twice a day.
  • You can also try using water floss to clean the plaque from the gum line and other places that are hard to reach with a brush or traditional floss.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for routine checkups to spot any issues in the early stages
  • Have professional cleanings every 6 to 12 months to prevent tartar buildup
  • Consult your doctor about vitamins and supplements that can help improve your general health and your gum health

Make an Appointment Today

If you are concerned with symptoms of gum disease or want to receive an extended personalized consultation, do not hesitate to make an appointment at our office today. Highly qualified periodontist Dr. David Kao has extensive experience and is trusted by many patients and colleagues. Modern methods of practice we use in our office help us ensure the dental health of our patients.