Periodontitis or gum disease is characterized by bleeding gums, bad breath, tartar accumulation, gum recession, teeth mobility, and swollen gingiva. Spotting the infection in its early stages can help to save your smile with the help of a periodontist in The Woodlands. However, for those who use tobacco products, spotting the warning signs of periodontitis might not be as easy. Smoking can conceal the symptoms of the illness, leaving it to advance aggressively before the person notices something is amiss.
The Link between Smoking and Periodontitis
Tobacco users usually have less blood circulation to their oral cavity. The human mouth is highly vascular, and any small bump or laceration can lead to relatively noticeable bleeding. That is the reason infected gums bleed very easily when they are brushed or flossed. However, when you smoke, the blood vessels begin to reduce in size and atrophy. Eventually, they lose their ability to supply oxygen and nutrients to the gum tissue, which slows the healing of ailing gum tissue.
Essentially, highly infected gums can appear fully healthy on the outside. There might not be swelling, bleeding or red gingiva. If you smoke, vape or use any kind of tobacco product, you should go for regular periodontitis screenings even if your gums appear healthy. Unfortunately, you might never notice infection signs by yourself until the ailment is highly advanced. At that juncture, the gums will typically begin to recede and your teeth will feel loose.
A gum screening comprises several digital bitewing x-rays and probing. Probing involves the use of a tiny ruler to measure the connective tissue around every tooth. Probing depths help to reveal if a smoker has any form of gum infection. Pockets exceeding a depth of 3mm are unhealthy and might need special cleaning, laser gum therapy or another periodontitis treatment.
While gum disease treatment protocols are the same for smokers and non-smokers, periodontists recommend a smoking cessation strategy. Smoking raises one’s susceptibility to develop gum disease, and further causes a poorer response to periodontal therapies. Stopping the use of tobacco allows your body to start repairing itself and you should be able to see an improvement in your periodontal therapy.
Regular dental cleanings and daily teeth brushing and flossing are useful for treating early gum disease. But, if the illness has progressed too much, the following treatments may be needed:
- Deep cleaning underneath the gum level
- Prescription oral rinses or medications
- Surgery to get rid of tartar deep beneath the gums
- Surgery to correct bone or gum lost to the disease. A periodontist may utilize small bone bits to fill areas of lost bone or some mouth tissue to cover damaged tooth roots
Frequency of Gum Screenings
If your mouth is relatively healthy, you might only require a periodontal screening once per annum. If you have several troublesome areas, they can be monitored at every six-month screening. However, if you smoke or at a higher risk of gum disease for another reason, you may need 2-3 gum screenings yearly.
Smokers are more likely to develop periodontitis than those who’ve never smoked. That’s because tobacco suppresses the immune system, decreasing its capability to fight against potential infections. Smoking may also limit blood vessel growth, slowing the healing process of damaged gum tissue. Quitting smoking completely or never starting the habit in the first place can greatly decrease your risk of periodontal disease.