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Parents' smoking may discolor kids' gums

Need another reason to give up cigarettes?

Secondhand smoke may discolor your children's gums.

New research, published in the August 2005 issue of Pediatrics, shows that gum darkening is more common among children of smoking parents than it is among children of nonsmoking parents.

The study of 59 nonsmoking children in rural Japan showed three-quarters had some darkening of the gums. Of that group, 70 percent had a parent who smoked, versus 35 percent of children with no gum darkening.

It was the first study to examine the relationship between excessive pigmentation of children's gums and parental smoking. Previous studies have shown a link between secondhand smoke and both pediatric gum disease and dental decay.

Dr. Takashi Hanioka, lead author of the study, said that although factors other than passive smoking do contribute to darkening of the gums, the study's findings suggest that parental smoking leads to gum discoloration among children in some cases. He believes its visibility might encourage some parents to kick the smoking habit.

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

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