Smoking and Patterns of Bone Loss in Early-Onset Periodontitis*

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The aims of this study were to investigate the extent and distribution of bone loss in subjects with early-onset periodontitis (EOP) referred for periodontal care and to study the relationship between smoking and EOP.


A total of 71 consecutive referrals (21 male, 50 female) under 35 years old, who were otherwise healthy, with a clinical diagnosis of severe periodontitis were recruited for the study. Bone loss was measured from available radiographs using a Schei ruler to identify 2 patterns of destruction: localized (LEOP) in 41 (58%) and generalized early-onset periodontitis (GEOP) in 30 (42%) subjects.


The study population had a mean of 25.0 (SD 2.4) teeth, excluding third molars, and mean bone loss of 28.7% (SD 13.0). Bone loss was more severe in the maxilla, 30.9% (SD 13.8) compared with 26.6% (SD 14.0) in the lower arch. More than one-third (36%) of the teeth examined had at least 30% bone loss. Mean smoking experience was 9.2 pack years (SD 5.6), and 39 (55%) of the EOP subjects smoked. Smokers had significantly more maxillary bone loss than non-smokers. A much higher proportion of GEOP (70%) currently smoked compared with 44% of LEOP, P = 0.029.


It is concluded that young adults with earlyonset forms of periodontitis often have advanced periodontal destruction before they are referred for specialist care. In addition, there was a relationship between smoking and severe bone destruction in subjects with EOP, particularly those with generalized disease.

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