Background: It has been shown that tobacco is a significant risk factor for periodontal disease; however, there have been few studies on young populations where problems of general health can be discounted. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of tobacco consumption on the periodontal condition of a young, healthy population.
Methods: The study population consisted of 304 young Caucasian males (average age 19.38 +/- 0.72 years) entering the Armed Forces. All the subjects completed a self-administered questionnaire on age, oral hygiene habits, previous dental examinations, and quantity and length of tobacco use. The periodontal examination consisted of the plaque index (PI); periodontal bleeding index (PBI); probing depth (PD); and clinical attachment level (CAL). One- and 2-way ANOVA was used to compare data recorded between smokers and non-smokers.
Results: Forty-six percent of subjects reported that they brushed their teeth at least once a day, but only 13% visited a dentist at least once a year. Over half (53%) were habitual smokers, 43% smoking between 5 and 20 cigarettes per day; 39% of the smokers had been smoking for less than 5 years. Mean PI was 31.24 +/- 14.88 (27.19 +/- 15.93 for smokers and 35.78 +/- 12.17 for non-smokers), with significant differences between non-smokers and those who smoked 5 to 20 cigarettes per day (26.85 +/- 16.11, P<0.0001). Mean PBI was 42.29 +/- 8.43 (non-smokers 44.67 +/- 6.53 and smokers 40.17 +/- 9.46). Significant differences were found between the PBI of the non-smokers and of those who smoked 5 to 20 cigarettes per day (39.90 +/- 9.64, P <0.0001). There were also differences in the PBI between those who brushed their teeth once (40.53 +/- 9.61) and twice (44.86 +/- 5.9) a day (P<0.0001). Mean PD was 1.62 +/- 0.43 mm (non-smokers 1.56 +/- 0.36 and smokers 1.68 +/- 0.49). Deeper probing depths were recorded among smokers than among non-smokers, with statistically significant differences (P<0.049); statistically significant differences were also found between those who attended (1.49 +/- 0.50) and those who did not attend (1.65 +/- 0.42) regular dental check-ups (P<0.031). Mean CAL 1.75 +/- 0.41 (non-smokers 1.64 +/- 0.32 and smokers 1.82 +/- 0.44).
Conclusions: It may be concluded that, even at such an early age, tobacco consumption affects the periodontal health. It is necessary to inform young smokers of the risk of tobacco use regarding periodontal health.