Tobacco smoking affects bacterial acquisition and colonization in oral biofilms


Recent evidence suggests that smoking affects the composition of the disease-associated subgingival biofilm; yet, little is known about its effects during the formation of this biofilm. The present investigation was undertaken to examine the contributions of smoking to the composition and pro-inflammatory characteristics of the biofilm during de novo plaque formation. Marginal and subgingival plaque and gingival crevicular fluid samples were collected from 15 current and 15 never smokers following 1, 2 4 and 7 days of undisturbed plaque formation. 16S cloning and sequencing was used for bacterial identification and multiplexed bead-based flow cytometry was used to quantify the levels of 27 immune mediators. Smokers demonstrated a highly diverse, relatively unstable initial colonization of both marginal and subgingival biofilms, with lower niche saturation than that seen in nonsmokers. Periodontal pathogens belonging to the genera Fusobacterium, Cardiobacterium, Synergistes, and Selenomonas, as well as respiratory pathogens belonging to the genera Hemophilus and Pseudomonas colonized the early biofilms of smokers and continued to persist over the observation period, suggesting that smoking favors early acquisition and colonization of pathogens in oral biofilms. Smokers also demonstrated an early pro-inflammatory response to this colonization, which persisted over 7 days. Further, a positive correlation between pro-inflammatory cytokine levels and commensal bacteria was observed in smokers, but not in nonsmokers. Taken together, the data suggest that smoking influences both the composition of the nascent biofilm as well as the host response to this colonization.

  1. Marcelo Aspiras3
  1. 1Division of Periodontology, College of Dentistry, The Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio
  2. 3Philips Oral Healthcare, Bothell, Washington, USA


  • Corresponding author: Dr. Purnima Kumar, 4111 Postle Hall, 305, W 12th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210, Phone: 614 247 4532, Fax: 614 292 4612, Email: kumar.83{at}