Before you light that next cigarette or put that next pinch of dip between your teeth and gums, take a look in the mirror.
Look closely at your gums. What do you see?
Hopefully by now, you are already aware of the multiple health risks associated with using tobacco.
In spite of that, you may not have considered gum disease as one of your problems. Tobacco raises your risk of periodontal disease and can make your treatment more difficult.
Quitting tobacco use is a great way to improve your oral health (and your overall health). Quitting also will make it easier for the team at Antoine Dental Center in Houston to treat the symptoms of your gum disease.
Connecting tobacco and gum disease
At this point, several studies have demonstrated a correlation between tobacco use and periodontal disease, according to information from the American Dental Hygienists Association.
And hygienists would know. They are the people who usually clean your teeth and gums when you come for a dental cleaning. They have seen, up close, what gum disease looks like.
One recent study found that smokers are three times more likely than non-smokers to experience periodontitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control. If you smoke more than a pack and a half each day, then your risk for periodontitis is six times higher than a non-smoker.
Periodontitis is the more severe of the two major types of gum disease. (Gingivitis is the other. We’ll explain the difference a little later.)
Here’s the main thing you need to know for now — gum disease can lead to tooth loss if you do not receive proper treatment.
It’s not a coincidence that smokers are more likely to have missing teeth than non-smokers. When you damage your gums, you are damaging the tissues that hold your teeth in place in your mouth.
If you do come for treatment for your gum disease, your success is diminished the more you use tobacco. Scientists know that cigarette smoke contains 69 cancer-causing chemicals. When you inhale this, you are pulling toxins into your lungs. When this happens, those toxins enter your bloodstream.
This reduces the oxygen and nutrients delivered throughout your body, including your gum tissue.
And that makes it harder for your gums to heal after periodontal disease treatments. With time, you can restore the health of your gums, but your treatment will likely take longer because of the effects of your tobacco use.
Types of gum disease
As we mentioned earlier, there are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is considered a mild form of periodontal disease. Your gums may be swollen and red, and they may bleed easily, perhaps when you are brushing or flossing your teeth.
When untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis.
In addition to red and swollen gums that bleed easily, someone with periodontitis may have the following symptoms:
- Persistent bad breath
- Pus between his or her teeth and gums
- Teeth that becoming loose
- Gum recession
In case you are wondering, gum recession occurs when your gums appear to be pulling away from your teeth.
This is bad because it creates pockets between your teeth and gums where bacteria and plaque can cause infections. The plaque that builds in these pockets is more difficult to remove from your mouth. It can harden into a substance called calculus, which requires special treatment to remove.
The infections in these pockets can damage the bones that hold your teeth in your mouth. If this bone gets infected, you greatly increase your risk of losing teeth.
Treating gum disease
If you are experiencing the symptoms described above, it’s time to call Antoine Dental Center in Houston. Our dental staff can provide gum disease treatment.
We start with a deep cleaning procedure known as root planing and scaling.
This requires your dentist or hygienist to clean underneath your gums to remove bacteria, plaque, and calculus that has formed close to the roots of your teeth. We provide local anesthesia or sedation during this procedure so you do not experience any pain.
Root planing and scaling isn’t always enough, however. In some cases, we will need to perform gum surgery to remove your infection. You will be under sedation for this procedure. The dentist will remove a part of your gums to better remove plaque and calculus from the pockets in your mouth.
In all honesty, we would prefer to never need to do these procedures. If you continue smoking cigarettes and cigars or keep using dip, chew, or other tobacco products, you are making it more likely that this will be necessary in your future.
Please, for your sake, take your first step toward quitting tobacco today. Next, call our office for an appointment so we can examine your mouth to see what kind of gum disease treatment is needed.
You can call our dentist office in Houston at 713-364-8990 or fill out our online form to schedule your visit. At Antoine Dental Office, we want to change your life and change your smile.