Effect of smoking and periodontal treatment on the subgingival microflora: A retrospective study

U Van der Velden*, A Varoufaki, JW Hutter, L Xu, MF Timmerman, AJ Van Winkelhoff, BG Loos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The effect of smoking on the prevalence of periodontal pathogens after periodontal treatment is still not clear. Some studies found no effect of the smoking status on the prevalence of periodontal pathogens after therapy, whereas others did. The aim of this retrospective study was to investigate the influence of smoking on the treatment of periodontitis and the composition of the subgingival microflora.

Methods: The study included 59 periodontitis patients (mean age 41.5 years): 30 smokers and 29 nonsmokers. The treatment consisted of initial periodontal therapy and, if necessary, surgery and/or antibiotics. Clinical and microbiological data were obtained before and after treatment at the deepest site in each quadrant. A pooled sample was analysed for the presence of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans (Aa ), Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg ), Prevotalla intermedia (Pi ), Bacteroides forsythus (Bf ), Fusobacterium nucleatum (Fn ) and Peptostreptococcus micros (Pm ).

Results: For smokers and nonsmokers a significant improvement of the clinical condition was found after treatment. A decrease could be assessed for bleeding on probing (smokers: 0.46; nonsmokers: 0.52) and probing pocket depth (PPD) (smokers: 1.64 mm; nonsmokers: 2.09 mm). Furthermore, both groups showed gain of attachment (smokers: 0.68 mm; nonsmokers: 1.46 mm). No significant difference in bleeding on probing and PPD reduction was found between smokers and nonsmokers. In contrast, nonsmokers showed significantly more gain of attachment than smokers. The microbiological results revealed no differences in the prevalence of the various bacteria between smokers and nonsmokers before treatment. After treatment in nonsmokers, a significant decrease was found in the prevalence of Aa (11-3), Pg (17-7), Pi (27-11), Bf (27-11), Fn (28-20) and Pm (27-17). In smokers, a significant decrease could be shown only for the prevalence of Pg (15-5).

Conclusions: Nonsmokers showed more gain of attachment and a greater decrease in the prevalence of periodontal bacteria as compared to smokers. The phenomenon that among smokers, more patients remain culture positive for periodontal pathogens after therapy, may contribute to the often observed unfavourable treatment results in smoker periodontitis patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-610
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Periodontology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2003


  • periodontal treatment
  • periodontitis
  • periodontopathogens
  • smoking

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