In the UK, 90% of adults have some form of gum disease1. If you smoke, you’re even more likely to develop the condition, and it can worsen more quickly2. Gum disease occurs when bacterial plaque (a sticky film that forms on teeth) builds up at the gum line. It can result in tooth loss as well as other serious health problems, if left untreated.
For smokers, it’s also difficult to fight off gum disease, as smoking weakens the immune system. And after your gums have been damaged, healing is more difficult as smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream.
Spotting gum disease can be harder too, as smoking can mask some of the symptoms. One typical sign is bleeding gums while brushing and flossing, which 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 early on.