Reports & Studies

Smoking & periodontitis

PD Dr. Kristina Bertl, PhD MSc MBA

Smoking and periodontitis – how bad is it really?

  • The risk of periodontitis occurring and progressing in smokers is much higher than it is in non-smokers. Moreover, the effect of smoking is cumulative – this means that ‘the more you smoke, the more periodontitis you get.’
  • Although smokers often have a severe degree of disease, their signs of inflammation are usually less pronounced. This means, for example, that smokers often have lower bleeding indices than non-smokers with a similarly severe level of periodontal disease.
  • Although the primary causes of periodontitis are bacterial infection and the body’s immune response to that infection, smoking nonetheless constitutes one of the most important avoidable risk factors.
  • Smoking substantially reduces the ability of the periodontium to heal during periodontal treatment – it is thought that the healing capacity of a 50-year-old smoker’s periodontium roughly corresponds to that of an 86-year-old non-smoker’s periodontium – that is a difference of 36 years!
  • Successful smoking cessation reduces the risk of periodontitis occurring and progressing and improves the patient’s treatment response – but probably only around 10 years after they stop smoking.


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