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J Periodontol. 2000 Apr;71(4):562-7.

The prevalence of pathogenic periodontal microflora in healthy young adult smokers.

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  • 1Department of Periodontology, College of Dentistry, The University of Tennessee, Memphis 38163, USA.



Smoking is a major risk factor in periodontitis, although the mechanisms of its effects are not well understood. The overall goal of this clinical study was to determine if smoking enhances the colonization of the oral cavity by pathogenic bacteria in a periodontitis-free population. The prevalence of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Campylobacter rectus, Eikenella corrodens, Bacteroides forsythus, and Treponema denticola was investigated in 25 smokers and 25 non-smokers by using DNA probes.


The subjects were 21 to 35 years of age with a healthy periodontium or slight gingivitis and were systemically healthy. The test group included subjects who had a minimum of a 1.5 pack-year history of smoking, while the control subjects never smoked. Subgingival plaque samples were taken by paper point following the assessment of multiple clinical parameters.


This investigation showed: 1) no statistically significant differences were noted in any clinical parameter measured between the groups; 2) of the 8 subjects who were infected by at least 1 tested pathogen, seven were smokers (P= 0.02); 3) infected smokers had a 15.7+/-3.5 pack-year history and smoked a mean of 27+/-5 cigarettes/day versus 4.4+/-0.8 pack years and 15+/-1 cigarettes/day for the non-infected smokers (P = 0.0001 and P = 0.004); and 4) smokers were 18 times more likely to exhibit the presence of pathogens than non-smokers.


These data indicate that the prevalence of colonization of the sulcus by pathogenic bacterial species in periodontitis-free individuals is related to the quantity and duration of cigarette smoking.

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