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Tobacco Is Bad for Your Gums, Too 

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give your gums much thought. And you may not know that many of the lifestyle choices that can affect your overall health can affect your gums, too — for example, smoking.

Studies have found that smoking is the top lifestyle factor affecting periodontal (gum) disease. Gum disease is an infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. Its two main stages are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis can be mild and reversible but can progress to more destructive periodontitis in susceptible individuals. Experts believe that smoking may suppress the immune system and leave gums prone to the infection. So if you or a loved one is a smoker, here’s one more reason to consider quitting. Why not talk with your doctor about the options available to help you quit today?

Key signs of gum disease include:

  • Red, swollen, or tender gums

  • Gums that easily bleed

  • Gums pulling away from the teeth

  • Teeth that are loose or separating

  • Chronic bad breath

"Smoking-attributable periodontitis in the United States: findings from NHANES III. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey." Tomar SL1, Asma S. J Periodontol. 2000 May;71(5):743-51. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10872955

"Smoking, Smoking Cessation, and Risk of Tooth Loss: The EPIC-Potsdam Study. Dietrich T1, Walter C2, et.al. J Dent Res. 2015 Oct;94(10):1369-75. Epub 2015 Aug 4. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26243734 

“Gum Disease.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/g/gum-disease Accessed 2013.

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