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Germs Become More Resistant when Exposed to Tobacco Smoke
Thursday, July 14, 2016

One of the reasons we need to brush our teeth regularly is that our mouths are home to a whole lot of germs. Millions of germs like Porphyromonas gingivalis, and we don’t want them getting too comfortable.

So we encourage patients to drink plenty of water and brush after every meal (ok, at least twice a day). But there’s one thing that we probably don’t talk about enough that doing a number on your oral health: smoking.

According to researcher David A. Scott, Ph.D. of University of Louisville School of Dentistry, tobacco smoke, composed of thousands of chemical components, is a stressor and promotes bacteria colonization and immune invasion.

In addition, cigarette smoke and its chemical components promote biofilm formation by several other pathogens including Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans, Klebsiella pneumonia and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Biofilms are made up of numerous microbial communities. Bacteria can form biofilms on most surfaces including teeth, heart valves and the respiratory tract.

The real problem with biofilms is that once they’re established, they can be very hard to get rid of because they act as a insurmountable barrier against the immune system and antibiotics. This means that there could be places in your mouth, heart, or lungs that are hot zones for persistent infection.

But that’s not all. You run a greater risk of antiboitic resistance when biofilms develop because they allow for the transfer of genetic material among the bacterial community.

One of the most prevalent biofilms is dental plaque, which can lead to gingivitis, a gum disease found in almost half the world's population, and to more severe oral diseases, such as chronic periodontitis. Bacterial biofilms also can form on heart valves resulting in heart-related infections, and they also can cause a host of other problems.

Ohio has a high percentage of smokers (20.1%) compared to other states, but our neighbors are in even worse health. Kentucky ranks second for cigarette use among adults, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and West Virginia has the highest percentage of smokers in the country at 26%.

If you smoke, we encourage you to quit. If you don’t we encourage you to never start.

Whether you need a routine cleaning or a more comprehensive procedure like scaling, restorative work or whitening, you’ll be in good hands with Dr. Philip Younts, DDS. Call our office to schedule an appointment and we’ll make sure your smile is as gorgeous as can be.



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