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.

© 2017 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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How Is Tobacco a THREAT TO ORAL HEALTH?

Tobacco's greatest threat to your health may be its association with oral cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that:

  • About 90 percent of people with mouth cancer and some types of throat cancer have used tobacco. The risk of developing these cancers increases as people smoke or chew more often or for a longer time.

  • Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop these cancers.

  • About 37 percent of patients who continue to smoke after cancer treatment will develop second cancers of the mouth, throat or larynx. While only 6 percent of people who quit smoking will develop these secondary cancers.

  • Smokeless tobacco has been linked to cancers of the cheek, gums and inner surface of the lips. Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of these cancers by nearly 50 times.7