May 18, 2007 -- Smoking may be public enemy No. 1 when it comes to the health of your teeth and gums.
"This study points out to patients that there are lifestyle factors other than brushing and flossing that may affect their oral health. Simple lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep, may help patients improve or protect their oral health," says Preston D. Miller Jr., DDS, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, in a news release. "It is also important to keep these in mind as the body of evidence linking oral disease with systemic diseases continues to grow because ultimately these lifestyle factors might impact a patient's overall health."
Smoking Affects Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease, which affects the teeth and gums and can ultimately lead to loss of teeth, is thought to be caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the mouth. But recent research has suggested that other factors may also play an important role.
In the study, Muneo Tanaka, DDS, and colleagues at Osaka University Graduate School of Dentistry, followed a group of 219 factory workers from 1999 to 2003 to examine the relationship between periodontal disease and different lifestyle factors.
Researchers analyzed the impact of a variety of lifestyle factors on the progression of periodontal disease among the workers, including physical exercise, alcohol use, tobacco use, hours of sleep, nutritional balance of the diet, mental stress, hours worked, and eating breakfast.
Out of all the lifestyle factors examined, researchers found the No. 1 one factor affecting the progression of periodontal disease was smoking.
The results, published in the Journal of Periodontology, also showed that more than 41% of those who experienced a worsening of their periodontal disease were current smokers.
Lack of sleep was the second most important lifestyle factor affecting periodontal disease with those who received seven to eight hours of sleep per night showing less periodontal disease progression than those who received six or fewer hours of sleep per night. High stress levels and daily alcohol consumption also had an impact on periodontal disease progression.