In the UK, more than 45% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease1. Gum disease is more prevalent among smokers, and smoking can cause issues like gingivitis to worsen quickly2. Gum disease occurs when bacterial plaque (a sticky film that forms on teeth) builds up at the gum line. If left untreated, it can result in tooth loss as well as other serious health problems.
Smokers can also find it more difficult to fight off gum disease, as smoking weakens the immune system. Smoking also reduces the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream, meaning damaged gums take longer to heal.
What's more, spotting the signs of gum disease can be difficult for those who smoke, as smoking can mask some of the symptoms. For example, a typical sign of gum disease is bleeding from the gums while brushing and flossing. This may not occur if you smoke, as nicotine decreases blood flow to the gums. It’s important to see your dentist for regular check-ups, they’ll be able to detect problems such as gum disease and treat them before they develop further.