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Smoking harms helpful mouth bacteria
Updated: 2/17/2012 6:59:56 PM

Smoking harms helpful mouth bacteria  

It's no secret that smoking can be damaging to a person's dental health. The habit can stain the teeth, worsen wrinkles around the mouth and contribute to the development of oral cancer. Recently, researchers from Ohio State University found another way in which smoking can damage oral health.

According to scientists, smoking may cause the body to turn against the healthy bacteria in the mouth. This may help explain why cigarette users have higher rates of oral diseases than non-smokers.

"The smoker’s mouth kicks out the good bacteria, and the pathogens are called in," said researcher and periodontist Purnima Kumar. "So they’re allowed to proliferate much more quickly than they would in a non-smoking environment."

The researchers said that these findings should give dentists even more reason to encourage their patients to quit smoking. Kumar said that she presents this information to her patients who use tobacco products, and tells them that she is concerned for their health. She says that her patients have become more willing to listen, and two of them recently quit. 

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