Smoking Linked to Gum Disease

Smoking may cause more than half the cases of gum disease among American adults, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Smokers are about four times more likely than people who have never smoked to have advanced gum disease. Smokers who smoke less than half a pack per day are almost three times more likely than nonsmokers to have the disease; those who smoke more than 1-1/2 packs per day have six times the risk. In advanced stages, gum disease can destroy the tissue and bone surrounding teeth, leading to loss of teeth. Smoking makes the gums more vulnerable to infections, decreases the flow of blood that carries food and oxygen to the gums and suppresses the body's ability to fight infections in the gums.