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.



Dentine Hypersensitivity: Simple solutions for a common dental problem

Do you get short sharp pain every time you have hot or cold food or beverages, such as

coffee or ice cream?  Does tooth brushing or flossing make you wince occasionally?

If you answered YES to these 2 questions, you may be suffering from a common problem called

Dentine hypersensitivity

~ also known as tooth sensitivity.


Tooth Sensitivity is one of the most common dental problems in our society.

Even though varying data exists regarding the occurrence of dentine hypersensitivity globally, clinical findings demonstrate that 1 in 5 people suffer from this dental condition.  There are many factors why patients suffer from this.  Some of the common causes of tooth sensitivity include tooth decay, worn out tooth enamel, cracked tooth, exposed root surface of the tooth due to gum disease or aggressive tooth brushing techniques leading to gum recession.  Proper diagnosis of dentine hypersensitivity is the first step in addressing this common dental issue.

What are the simple solutions to treat dentine hypersensitivity?

1.  Get your teeth checked!  As mentioned earlier, proper diagnosis of this dental condition is the first step.

2. Your dentist may recommend a specially formulated toothpaste (e.g. Sensodyne) for use twice daily.  Its active ingredients have dual action:  primarily to provide a nerve calming effect, as well as initiate tooth protection through surface re-mineralization.

3. Dentist-supervised in-office dental products (e.g. high concentrated fluoride gel, varnish, mousse or desensitizers) can be applied by a dental health care professional.

4. If the conservative approach does not work, your dentist may recommend other treatment options depending on the cause of tooth sensitivity.

If you are suffering from this condition and have concerns about its possible cause/s and treatment options, you are more than welcome to call our clinic here at Erina to book a consultation with any of our dentists.

Til next time!  

Dr. Rouel Vergara DMD


Oral Health and Cancer


February 4, 2016 was World Cancer Day.  Its theme, “We Can .I Can.”, focuses on how every individual can play a role in decreasing the burden of cancer.  As a dental health professional, it is important that we provide and increasecommunity awareness about cancer.


According to Dr Peter Aldritt, Chair of the ADA’s Oral Health Committee, “We urge cancer patients and people living with cancer to be aware of the possible oral health side effects that could arise during and after treatment. There are a number of simple things that patients can do to make their experience of treatment that little bit easier.”  

Receiving cancer treatment will always be the main priority for a patient. However, it is important that cancer patients seek consultations with their dentist about their diagnosis as soon as they can. It is essential that a thorough full oral health assessment is done prior to undergoing cancer treatment. It is always advisable that patients have healthy teeth and gums before commencing their cancer treatment.

The most common side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the following:

1.      Ulcers in the mouth

2.      Gum infections

3.      Bleeding gums

4.      Dry mouth

5.      Altered taste

Unfortunately for patients, these oral complications may last for months or years. These can cause discomfort and pain for some. 

Here are a few simple tips that can minimise oral health discomfort:

1.      Keep mouth moist by sipping water frequently

2.      Minimise caffeine intake such as coffee or tea – reduces dehydration

3.      Avoid sugary food and drinks

4.      Avoid acidic food and drinks

5.      Avoid hard, dry, spicy food

6.      Chew sugar-free gum – helps stimulate saliva in the mouth

7.      Use dry mouth gel or spra

If you have any further questions and concerns about how cancer and its treatment can affect your oral health, I highly recommend that you seek professional dental advice as soon as possible.

Dr. Rouel Vergara DMD