It is generally accepted that the primary cause of periodontitis is bacterial infection of long duration. In addition, there are several risk factors that may increase the probability and severity of periodontitis. For example, an increased breakdown of alveolar bone has been observed in smokers compared to never-smokers. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between cigarette smoking and periodontal health, in particular, furcation involvement in molar teeth.
One hundred twenty (120) adult regular dental patients, presenting with at least 20 teeth each, third molars excluded, were evaluated. Sixty of the subjects consumed an average (+/- SD) of 16.8 +/- 3.8 cigarettes daily and had smoked for 21.4 +/- 5.7 years. The remaining subjects presented a negative history of smoking. Periodontal conditions for the molar teeth were recorded at the first and second mandibular molar buccal furcation area.
Oral hygiene standards and dental care habits did not differ notably between smokers and never-smokers. Smokers exhibited significantly fewer molar teeth than never-smokers (2.2 +/- 1.1 versus 3.0 +/- 0.8; P<0.01). Also, smokers exhibited significantly advanced gingival recession, probing depth, clinical attachment loss, furcation involvement, and tooth mobility compared to never-smokers (P<0.01).
The results of this study suggest that long-term cigarette smoking significantly worsens periodontal health including degree and incidence of furcation involvement in molar teeth.