dental health week

Simple Facts on Gum Disease and Smoking

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a type of infection considered to be opportunistic by nature. This is the result of the interaction between a host’s (patient)ability to fight infection and bacteria in dental plaque. The ability of the host to fight infection can also be affected by some factors including genetics, environment and acquired risk factors.

One of the most common acquired risk factors is smoking tobacco. Various studies have proven that smoking has a direct link to certain diseases such as, pneumonia, cardiovascular disease, cancer and the list goes on and on and on.

In comparison to a non-smoker, a patient who smokes has a 2.5-3.5 % chance of developing gum disease. According to recent clinical studies, 40% of patients with gum disease may be attributed to smoking. Evidence shows that loss of supporting structures of the teeth (gums and jaw bone) tend to be greater in smokers, therefore resulting in increased risk of tooth mobility and tooth loss.

So how does smoking increase the severity of gum disease?

Tobacco smoke contains carbon monoxide which has a direct impact on blood oxygen in healthy gums. This type of oral environment encourages the growth of anaerobic bacteria causing gum disease. As the anaerobic bacteria presence increases, the severity of gum disease also increases. Nicotine in tobacco smoke is known to be vasoconstrictive (stops bleeding via compression of blood vessels). This vasoconstrictive effect prevents blood from flowing around the gums. As a result, cells that fight bacteria-causing gum disease cannot effectively reach the site of infection.

The most important thing to remember is that smoking alters how our body responds tofight infection in the supporting tissues (gums and jaw bone) of our teeth. Prevention of gum disease is the overall key.

If you have any further concerns about the effects of smoking, gum disease and its potential detrimental effect on your overall oral health and quality of life, our dentists, Dr. Rouel Vergara and Dr. Ben Barrera will be happy to discuss this with you.



Dental Health Week: Women and Oral Health

Dental Health Week is the Australian Dental Association's major annual oral health promotion event which kicks off on the 1st of August and concludes on the 7th.  Its aim is to educate Australians about the importance of maintaining good oral health in every aspect of their lives.

This year, the ADA will be focusing on women and their oral health.  Recent studies have revealed that many women are unaware that significant changes in their life also presents substantial change in their oral health.  

Here are some of the life changing stages in women that can affect the health of their mouth

Puberty in Girls

Puberty is one of the momentous life stages in women. During puberty, there’s a lot of things happening in the body. This includes increases in sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. An increased level of hormones can elevate blood volume in the gums. This condition can result in “puberty gingivitis”, which is characterized by swelling and redness of gums. Gums bleed more easily than usual especially when irritated by food particles and plaque.


Although the effects of menstruation varies from one female individual to another, the increased amount of sex hormones in the body coupled with build-up of plaque can result to swelling and bleeding gums. This is considered to be a temporary form of gingivitis. Fortunately, this condition disappears once her period begins. Women taking oral contraceptives (“the pill”) may find a similar kind of gingivitis seen in pregnant women. This condition is known as “pregnancy gingivitis”. 


The stage of pregnancy in a woman’s life is considered to be exciting.  As the condition of the body changes during pregnancy, so does the mouth’s. Oral health can be affected due to hormonal changes. Pregnancy gingivitis is a common gum condition characterized by puffiness of gums. This condition is considered temporary but can also progress further if ignored.

Although not all pregnant women suffer from morning sickness, there are some who do. Unfortunately, this can affect the teeth.  Acid in the vomit can erode the teeth.  Brushing immediately can cause more damage to teeth by stripping away the enamel.


Women between the ages of 47 and 55 undergo menopausal stage. This is characterized by a declining level of hormones. Unfortunately, this stage also presents different oral health effects such as dry mouth, swollen gums, burning sensations and altered taste.  Some of the medications taken by women going through menopause can also have a detrimental effect on gums and teeth.

No matter what life stage you are in, there’s no need to suffer from these hormonal changes. Brushing, flossing and seeing your dentists regularly will help manage these different oral health conditions. 

If you have any further questions and concerns about women and oral health, I highly recommend that you seek professional dental advice as soon as possible.