Research says smokers more likely to lose teeth

European researchers report in a study that smokers are at a higher risk than the general population of losing their teeth.

The study, published in the Journal of Dental Research, was conducted with the data of 23,376 participants. The results showed that male smokers were up to 3.6 times more likely to lose their teeth than nonsmokers, and that female smokers were found to be 2.5 times more likely.

Dr. Thomas Dietrich, the lead author of the study, said in a news release, "Most teeth are lost as a result of either caries or chronic periodontitis. We know that smoking is a strong risk factor in periodontitis, so that may go a long way towards explaining the higher rate of tooth loss in smokers." Caries are tooth decay, and periodontitis is gum disease.

Compounding the matter is that smoking can mask gum bleeding, with the gums of a smoker appearing to be healthier than they actually are, the study says. As a result, the effects of gum disease don’t immediately appear "until it is quite far down the line," Dr. Dietrich said.

The authors also found that the impact of smoking on tooth loss appeared to be dose dependent. In other words, those that smoke more are more likely to have more tooth loss.

The silver lining in the study is that quitting smoking can reduce the risk of losing teeth significantly. After a decade of not smoking, an ex-smoker would have the same risk for tooth loss as someone who had never smoked, the study says.

To read the abstract, go to jdr.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/08/03/0022034515598961.abstract

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