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For Immediate Release

Contact: Richard T. Koenig
Phone: 202-547-7613
Fax: 202-546-1482

Quitting Smoking Today Will Save Your Smile For A Lifetime

Most of us already know that cigarette smoking is a risk factor for many diseases. However, recent evidence indicates that smoking may also affect your teeth and smile.

A number of recent studies have shown very strong associations between smoking and periodontal disease or gum disease. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the gums, bone and attachment fibers that support the teeth and them in the jaw, explains Dr. Sally Cram of the D.C. Dental Society. If the teeth are not cleaned properly everyday, removing the sticky plaque and bacterial deposits that form at the gum line, the bacteria will produce toxins that destroy the gum and bone which surround the tooth. Untreated gum disease can result in recession and bleeding of the gum as well as bad breath and eventual tooth loss."

Smokers are also more likely to develop periodontal disease that non-smokers. Studies have also shown that smokers develop more severe periodontal disease with much more rapid bone loss and tooth loss than non-smokers of the same age. Smoking causes the blood vessels to constrict, allowing less circulation to the gums and bone. It also affects the body's ability to fight periodontal infection by impairing the function of antibodies and white blood cells which are important for healing and controlling the damage.

Smoking influences the results of periodontal treatment. Many smokers heal slowly and tend to show continued bone loss and tissue breakdown despite regular cleaning by the dentist and therapy aimed at controlling the disease," continues Dr. Cram.

The prevalence and severity of periodontitis in former smokers is decreased compared to current smokers, providing evidence that quitting smoking is immediately beneficial. Periodontists, specialists that treat patients with gum disease, recommend that smokers see their dentist more frequently for cleanings, check-ups and x-rays which can detect bone loss and potential gum problems.

Quitting smoking today is the first step to saving your smile for a lifetime. For more information on periodontal disease or for a dental referral, contact the D.C. Dental Society at (202) 547-7613.

For more information about oral health issues, visit www.dcdental.org and the American Dental Association Web site at www.ada.org.

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