Background: Our purpose was to test the hypotheses that cigar and pipe smoking have significant associations with periodontal disease and cigar, pipe, and cigarette smoking is associated with tooth loss. We also investigated whether a history of smoking habits cessation may affect the risk of periodontal disease and tooth loss.
Methods: A group of 705 individuals (21 to 92 years-old) who were among volunteer participants in the ongoing Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging were examined clinically to assess their periodontal status and tooth loss. A structured interview was used to assess the participants' smoking behaviors with regard to cigarettes, cigar, and pipe smoking status. For a given tobacco product, current smokers were defined as individuals who at the time of examination continued to smoke daily. Former heavy smokers were defined as individuals who have smoked daily for 10 or more years and who had quit smoking. Non-smokers included individuals with a previous history of smoking for less than 10 years or no history of smoking.
Results: Cigarette and cigar/pipe smokers had a higher prevalence of moderate and severe periodontitis and higher prevalence and extent of attachment loss and gingival recession than non-smokers, suggesting poorer periodontal health in smokers. In addition, smokers had less gingival bleeding and higher number of missing teeth than non-smokers. Current cigarette smokers had the highest prevalence of moderate and severe periodontitis (25.7%) compared to former cigarette smokers (20.2%), and non-smokers (13.1%). The estimated prevalence of moderate and severe periodontitis in current or former cigar/pipe smokers was 17.6%. A similar pattern was seen for other periodontal measurements including the percentages of teeth with > or = 5 mm attachment loss and probing depth, > or = 3 mm gingival recession, and dental calculus. Current, former, and non- cigarette smokers had 5.1, 3.9, and 2.8 missing teeth, respectively. Cigar/pipe smokers had on average 4 missing teeth. Multiple regression analysis also showed that current tobacco smokers may have increased risks of having moderate and severe periodontitis than former smokers. However, smoking behaviors explained only small percentages (<5%) of the variances in the multivariate models.
Conclusion: The results suggest that cigar and pipe smoking may have similar adverse effects on periodontal health and tooth loss as cigarette smoking. Smoking cessation efforts should be considered as a means of improving periodontal health and reducing tooth loss in heavy smokers of cigarettes, cigars, and pipes with periodontal disease.