The Influence of Tobacco Smoking on the Onset of Periodontitis in Young Persons
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Division of Restorative Dentistry (Periodontics), School of Clinical Dentistry, Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Publication date: 2004-06-15
Corresponding author
Brian H. Mullally   

Brian H. Mullally, Division of Restorative Dentistry (Periodontics), School of Clinical Dentistry, Queen’s University, Grosvenor Road, Belfast BT12 6BP Northern Ireland
Tobacco Induced Diseases 2004;2(June):53
This paper reviews the evidence for cigarette smoking as a risk factor for the development of severe destructive periodontal disease in young adults. A high prevalence of cigarette smoking has been identified among young individuals with aggressive periodontitis and tobacco usage increases the risk of periodontal destruction most significantly in young populations. The effect appears to be dose related and is independent of levels of plaque accumulation. Young smokers have more alveolar bone loss and attachment loss than non smoking equivalents. Prolonged and heavy smoking can reduce gingival bleeding and therefore mask the clinical marker of bleeding on probing often used by dentists to monitor periodontal health. This has implications for potential misdiagnosis and failure to detect periodontitis at an early stage. Nicotine metabolites concentrate in the periodontal tissues and can have local effects as well as the potential to affect the systemic host response. Dentists are well placed to assess the smoking status of their young patients and have a role to play in the delivery of smoking cessation advice especially as it pertains to periodontal health. In this way the dental profession can also make a significant contribution to the general health and well being of our youth and future generations.
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