"In this study we investigated the relationship between tobacco smoking and the inflammatory response in smokers who consumed 10 to 20 cigarettes per day," said Michael P. Rethman, D.D.S., M.S., and president of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). "What we found in tobacco smokers is that the body's defense mechanism was weakened, whereas the defense mechanism in non-smokers promoted a more favorable healing response."
Research also shows that tobacco smoking releases enzymes that could increase the development of periodontitis, a bacterial infection of the gums, bone and attachment fibers that support the teeth and hold them in the jaw. Once smokers quit, oral health begins to improve.
"Patients who want to quit smoking are urged to increase brushing and flossing their teeth and gums," said Rethman. "It's suggested that the fresh clean feeling a person feels in the mouth after brushing and flossing may curb the urge to smoke. Ironically, these simple tips also help to prevent periodontal diseases."
In conjunction with the Great American Smokeout in November, the AAP has launched a special section on its Web site at www.perio.org to educate people about tobacco's effects on periodontal health.
A free brochure titled Tobacco and Gum Disease is available by calling 1-800-FLOSS-EM or using the AAP's online request form. The AAP's Web site (www.perio.org) can provide more information and a referral to a nearby periodontist.
The AAP was established in 1914 and focuses on 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.
**EDITOR'S NOTE: A copy of the report published in the Journal of Periodontology's titled "Effect of Tobacco Smoking on Neutrophil Activity Following Periodontal Surgery" is available by calling Amy Duff at 312-573-3244.