If you know me, you know I practice as a dentist in Columbia SC and have been touting for years, the dangers of smoking and your dental health. Years and now there's even more news in the dental industry that proves smoking is not only unhealthy for the rest of your body, it actually kills healthy bacteria in your mouth and breeds deadly pathogens. Not good.
According to Ohio State University's assistant professor of periodontology, Professor Purnima Kumar, the body has it's own personal ecosystem and when a person smokes, the body is much more "susceptible to invasion by harmful bacteria". Pro. Purnima Kumarand and her colleagues are performing a study of the role these microbial communities play in fighting off or preventing oral diseases.
"The smoker's mouth kicks out the good bacteria, and the pathogens are called in," said Kumar. "So they're allowed to proliferate much more quickly than they would in a non-smoking environment."
According to Pro. Kumar, the human body forms biofilms in the body which are little communities of helpful bacteria. This biofilm keeps the harmful bacteria at bay. Interestingly enough, there's an ongoing battle in the mouth between harmful and healthy bacteria which affects not only the teeth and gums but the rest of the body too. This healthy biofilm community is hindered and destroyed by smoking and the harmful guys end of taking over.
In another study by Pro. Kumar and her fellows found that when healthy communities of biofilm were wiped away, it takes much longer for people that smoke to develop a stable microbial community, and when they do, it's a pathogen-rich community as well. That is not good news for smokers.
Here's some bullet point facts about this study:
- Smokers also have higher levels of cytokines (the body's defense system)
- this immune response takes the form of red, swollen gums
- it can lead to the irreversible bone loss of periodontitis
- smokers' bodies treat healthy bacteria as threatening
- smoking confuses normal communication between healthy bacteria and their human host
- after professional cleanings, there is a high risk of these pathogens returning instantly
I know it sounds like I keep beating a dead horse but each year the little intricacies related to gum disease, your general health and smoking make it more and more important that we butt-out those cigarettes and start living the healthy life again. You're entire life depends on it.