Supplements for Smokers? Antioxidants aid smokers’ gum disease

Treating gum disease in smokers is daunting: Implants don’t take hold as well, surgeries are less successful and infections heal more slowly than in nonsmokers. Short of convincing patients to quit, oral biologists at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine have found a way to help smokers respond better to treatment.

In a study conducted in UB’s Periodontal Research Center, researchers showed that giving smokers a supplement containing the antioxidant vitamins C and E and grape seed extract improved the response to treatment, shown by better gum attachment and improved oral health in general.

“Smokers are a constant challenge in clinical practice,” said Sara Grossi, DDS, a senior research scientist. “This antioxidant supplement shows significant benefit in smokers with severe periodontal disease and appears to be safe, with no side effects,” she said, “To my knowledge, this is the first study to test the efficacy of a dietary supplement for oral health.”

The study involved 75 smokers with gum disease who smoked more than 10 cigarettes a day for many years: “Probably the worst of the worst,” said Grossi. At the end of the study, results showed that patients taking the antioxidants had significantly fewer gum pockets deeper than 5 mm (sites where gum tissue had become detached from the tooth) compared to the control group. Those taking antioxidants also had an increase in gum attachment.

University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, Mar 29, 2004