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Quitting smoking could save your teeth

Are you looking for another reason to quit smoking? Keeping your teeth is a good one.

Dental researchers from Newcastle University, United Kingdom, observed a group of smokers with periodontal disease over the course of a year and found some symptoms were likely to improve for those who quit smoking.

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. In its more severe form, it can lead to tooth loss if not properly cared for. According to research, smokers are six times more likely to develop periodontal disease than non-smokers.

In order to study more closely the relationship between tobacco use and periodontal disease, the UK researchers followed 49 smokers with chronic periodontal disease for one year. All of the participants were encouraged to quite smoking through counseling and, for some, use of nicotine replacement therapies. They also all received treatment for their periodontal disease.

One-fifth of the subjects quit smoking during the study, the UK researchers reported, and for those patients, periodontal health improved significantly compared to those who continued to smoke.

"Our study shows that people should stop smoking now if they want to increase their chances of keeping their teeth into old age," said lead researcher Dr. Philip Preshaw, a clinical lecturer in periodontology with the Newcastle University School of Dental Sciences.

"Often the dentist is in the best position to help them stop smoking because most people, if they are going to regular dental appointments, have more contact with him or her than with their doctor," he added.

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

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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