Smoking Seeps Deep Into The Mouth

Smoking got in the way of oral bone regeneration after gum disease treatments

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It’s no secret that smoking is bad for the gums. But the harms of smoking may reach even deeper into the oral bone and prevent healing from gum disease.

Researchers have found that smoking interfered with proper oral bone healing after treatments for gum disease.

A closer look found that non-smokers healed better after treatments, but the researchers did not investigate results for former smokers.

"It's never too late to quit smoking! Ask for help."

Woosung Sohn, DDS, PhD, director of the Program of Advanced Training in Dental Public Health at the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine at Boston University, reviewed a previous investigation by Patel et al. into oral bone healing and repair after patients received treatments for gum disease.

The study compared levels of repaired oral bone in 154 smokers versus 304 non-smokers from 10 different studies on gum disease treatments. 

Those researchers concluded that smoking limited the amount of bone growth by an average of 2.05 millimeters in smokers compared to non-smokers.

According to Dr. Sohn, smoking has been a known risk factor for gum disease in the dental health community for some time. The soft tissue of the gums becomes damaged by the act of smoking. But little research has investigated how smoking damages the way the bone heals after being treated for gum disease.

Dr. Sohn found that the conclusions and professional recommendations of the previous study were valid: dental health professionals should encourage patients to quit smoking before undergoing treatments for gum disease.

“[P]racticing dentists may advise patients before periodontal [gum] treatment that smoking likely will have a negative effect on periodontal bone regeneration after treatment,” wrote Dr. Sohn.

Dr. Sohn noted that the research did not take former smokers into account, which means former smokers may have different rates of bone growth after treatments for gum disease compared to smokers and non-smokers. 

The cost of treatments for gum disease depends greatly on how far the gum disease has spread throughout the mouth. A single area in need of a minor treatment may run around $250, but full dental implants can run as high as $50,000 or more.

Dr. Sohn's critical summary was published in May in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

No outside funding was used to support this critical summary. No conflicts of interest were declared.

The previous study reviewed by Dr. Sohn was published in February 2012 in the Journal of Periodontology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 23, 2013
Last Updated:
August 9, 2013