Smoking Kills Good Bacteria, Paving the Way for Disease

It’s fairly safe to say that everyone is aware, in some form or fashion, that smoking is bad for you. Dentists will talk to you about the risks of mouth cancer and the staining you will undoubtedly experience. Thanks to a new study, there is another reason to avoid smoking for dental health reasons: smoking causes your body to turn against your good bacteria that you need to stay healthy, therefore leaving you more susceptible to disease.

Not all bacteria that lives in your body is harmful; in fact, your body needs the inhabiting bacteria to remain healthy and protect against disease. Smoking kills off the good bacteria that reside in your mouth, which allows pathogens to take up residence and spread. The study found that non-smokers’ mouths had a very healthy biofilm of the good bacteria, and in smokers, the biofilm was either minimal or non-existent. As therefore expected, nonsmokers’ mouths had minimal to no pathogens whereas smokers had very high levels of the disease-causing microbes.

The study also found that when smoking wipes away all of the good bacteria, it takes only 24 hours for the pathogens to take over. Once the pathogens recreate the stable microbiotic environment that the mouth requires, the body starts to treat them as it would the good bacteria. As a result, if any good bacteria starts to develop, the body uses its immune system to attack and destroy the good bacteria.

This is the number one reason why gum disease is so prolific among smokers instead of non-smokers. As we have gone over before, gum disease can lead to other more serious health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. It’s yet another bullet point that demonstrates how your dental health affects your overall health.

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