Consumer News: Study shows tobacco promotes bacteria growth in mouth

Smoking tobacco is widely known as a killer. From cancer to emphysema, tobacco can result in many causes of death. But the effect smoking has on bacteria was largely unknown, until now.

Published in the 2015 issue of the journal Tobacco Induced Diseases, the article from University of Louisville School of Dentistry researcher David A. Scott reveals how tobacco use leads to bacteria colonization. Dr. Scott and his coauthors describe the effect tobacco smoke can have on biofilms, dense communities of bacteria that are called dental plaque when formed on teeth. Dental plaque can lead to gingivitis as well as more severe oral diseases like periodontitis.

Using tobacco not only enhances the growth of these bacterial spaces, but also makes them stronger. Dental plaque can develop antibiotic resistance and potentially expand when the area is exposed to tobacco. With a severe enough case, the dental plaque can act as a wall between the immune system and the bacteria inside the plaque.

Dr. Scott is still researching ways to combat biofilm-induced diseases. He closes the article by admitting that this research is only scratching the surface.

For more information on the effects of tobacco use, visit the "Smoking and Tobacco" page at Mouthhealthy.org

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