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Dr. Edwards' Blog

Are you a smoker?  Here's yet another reason to quit

If you’re a regular smoker, you’ve heard the warnings about cancer and all about the risks to your heart and lungs.  And now, there’s a risk to your teeth.

New research shows men who smoke are almost four times more likely to lose their teeth than men who don’t smoke.  Women who smoke are 2.5 times more likely to lose their teeth than women who don’t smoke. 

Researchers at the University of Birmingham and the German Institute of Human Nutrition conducted the study that is published in the Journal of Dental Health.

Tooth loss remains a major public health problem worldwide.  In the UK, 15% of 65-74 year olds and over 30% of 75+ year olds have lost all their natural teeth.  Globally, the figure is closer to 30% for all 65-74 year olds.

Tooth decay and periodontitis, or gum disease, are the main culprits for tooth loss.  Researchers say smoking is a strong risk factor for periodontitis because it can mask gum bleeding, a key symptom of gum disease, and the gums of a smoker can appear healthier than they actually are.  "It's really unfortunate that smoking can hide the effects of gum disease as people often don't see the problem until it is quite far down the line. The good news is that quitting smoking can reduce the risk fairly quickly,” said Lead Researcher Professor Thomas Dietrich from the University of Birmingham.  He added that eventually an ex-smoker would have the same risk for tooth loss as someone who had never smoked, although this can take more than ten years.

The link between smoking and tooth loss was stronger among younger people than in the older groups.  And that link is dose-dependent -- heavy smokers had higher risk of losing their teeth than smokers who smoked fewer cigarettes.

Professor Heiner Boeing, from the German Institute of Human Nutrition, concluded, "In addition to the many noted benefits for cardiovascular health, and risk of lung disease and cancer, it is clear that dental health is yet another reason not to take up smoking, or to quit smoking now."

 

 

 

 

 

 

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