Study Shows Smokers at Greater Risk of Tooth Loss

Person holds cigarette while sitting

Research conducted by the University of Birmingham and the German Institute of Human Nutrition, published in the Journal of Dental Research, found that “male smokers are up to 3.6 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers, whereas female smokers were found to be 2.5 times more likely.”

Lead author Professor Thomas Dietrich, from the University of Birmingham, explained, “Most teeth are lost as a result of either caries (tooth decay) or chronic periodontitis (severe gum disease). We know that smoking is a strong risk factor for periodontitis, so that may go a long way towards explaining the higher rate of tooth loss in smokers.”

Did you know that smoking can mask gum bleeding, a key symptom of periodontitis? As a result, the gums of a smoker can appear to be healthier than they actually are. Professor Dietrich added, “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. It is possible 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.”

An additional finding demonstrated from this research shows the association was dose-dependent; heavy smokers had higher risk of losing their teeth than smokers who smoked fewer cigarettes.

Professor Heiner Boeing, also from the German Institute of Human Nutrition, added, “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.”

Read the whole article from ScienceDaily.