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By Dr. Huzefa Talib
Exposure to second hand smoke may increase the risk of gum disease, results of recent studies suggest. Nonsmokers inhaling environmental tobacco smoke at work or home increased their chances of developing periodontal disease about 1.5 times.

Even though this increase in risk is much smaller than the increase in risk associated with active cigarette smoking (which is up to five times greater), environmental tobacco smoke could account for many cases of periodontal disease worldwide.

Although periodontal disease can include several diseases such as Gingivitis and Periodontitis the researchers looked specifically for the more severe form, Periodontitis, which destroys the soft tissues and bone that support teeth. Ultimately, the disease can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.

It has been found that among adults who had never smoked cigarettes, about 11% of those exposed to environmental tobacco smoke in their homes or at work had periodontal disease. The results indicate an association between secondhand smoke and the gum destroying disease may exist, although it is still early to say so and needs more research.

The bottom line, however, is “Periodontal disease is treatable, but it is best to catch it early”.