Communicating with Patients about Nicotine and Perio

During a recent in-office team workshop, we were discussing nicotine use and its dramatic effects on the progression of periodontal disease. To help the team fully understand the consequences of nicotine use, we talked about vasoconstriction and how smoking masks the true level of periodontal infection. The vasoconstrictive properties of smoking reduce blood flow and, in turn, oxygen to the tissue, resulting in gums that do not bleed or have reduced bleeding. Smoking patients have pockets that may be deeper, harder to measure because of the fibrotic tissue and typically there is more bone loss.

Therefore, especially in a smoker’s mouth, the most accurate way to determine the true extent of periodontal disease activity is to do a clinical laboratory test (MyPerioPath). Through the MyPerioPath report we can find out exactly which pathogens are driving the disease, then the treatment can target those specific bacteria.

The next challenge is helping patients get a true ‘understanding’ of their disease state and as a result, take responsibility for themselves. Take less than 2 minutes, watch this video and learn an impactful patient communication phrase to drive home the concept that nicotine use is dangerous.

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Kim Miller, RDH, BSDH
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