CHICAGO - Pierce Brosnan and Demi Moore have appeared on covers of cigar magazines sending the message that cigar smoking, a growing habit among the young and affluent, is sophisticated. What the covers don't show is models with missing teeth. Yet, according to a study published in the newly released Journal of Periodontology, cigar and pipe smoking may have nearly the same adverse effects on periodontal health and tooth loss as cigarette smoking.
Researchers analyzed 705 individuals ranging in age from 21 to 92 years old, and found that 17.6 percent of current or former cigar or pipe smokers had moderate to severe periodontitis - nearly three times the percent as non-smokers. In addition, they averaged four missing teeth. For each given tobacco product, current smokers were defined as individuals who smoke daily. Former heavy smokers were defined as individuals who had smoked daily for 10 or more years, but had quit smoking. The non-smokers group included individuals who had quit smoking cigarettes after smoking for less than 10 years and those with no history of smoking.
"Cigarette, cigar and pipe smokers all had a much higher prevalence of moderate and severe periodontitis compared to former smokers and non-smokers," explained Jasim Albandar, D.D.S., Ph.D., professor of periodontology at Temple University School of Dentistry and lead researcher of the study. "Research also indicated that there was a correlation with the number of missing teeth with the current, former and non-smokers having 5.1, 3.9 and 2.8 missing teeth, respectively."
Cigar smokers are at a higher risk of alveolar bone loss than non-smokers. "This increase in risk is similar in magnitude to that of cigarette smokers," explained Albandar.
"Smoking cessation efforts should be considered a way of improving periodontal health and protecting against tooth loss in cigarette, cigar and pipe smokers," said Michael McGuire, D.D.S., president of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). "My patients who smoke understand the health consequences, so I like to remind them of another possible outcome - a toothless smile."
The AAP has a section titled Tobacco Use and Periodontal Disease on its Web site at www.perio.org to educate people about tobacco's effects on periodontal health. A referral to a periodontist and a free brochure entitled Tobacco & Gum Disease are available by calling 1-800-FLOSS-EM, or visit the AAP's Web site at www.perio.org.
The American Academy of Periodontology is a 7,500-member association of dental professionals specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth and in the placement and maintenance of dental implants. Periodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A copy of the study, Cigar, Pipe and Cigarette Smoking as Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease and Tooth Loss, is available by calling 312-573-3246.