Increased tooth loss can be added to the list of health-related problems caused by smoking.
A study was carried out by the University at Buffalo (UB) which examined, for the first time, comprehensive smoking histories in relationship to tooth loss in post-menopausal women who smoked.
The research was published in the Journal of the American Dental Association.
The study reviewed smoking histories of 1,106 women who were part of the Buffalo OsteoPerio Study. The participants had been part of the “Women's Health Initiative, (WHI), the largest clinical trial and observational study ever undertaken in the U.S., involving more than 162,000 women across the nation, including nearly 4,000 in Buffalo,” reported University of Buffalo News.
In the UB study, heavy smokers were found to have twice the likelihood of reporting tooth loss in general. They were more than six times as likely to have lost teeth from periodontal disease, compared to women who had never smoked.
Heavy smokers were defined as those who had smoked at least a pack a day for 26 years. Participants provided a detailed history of reasons for each tooth lost and in some cases dental records were reviewed.
Researchers also found that it didn’t matter whether postmenopausal women increased flossing or brushed their teeth more often, they still tended to experience more tooth loss than men of the same age.
Interestingly, researchers “found that smoking was a less important factor in tooth loss due to caries,” said Xiaodan (pronounced Shee-ao-dan) Mai, a doctoral student in epidemiology in the UB Department of Social and Preventive Medicine in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, as reported in Sciencedaily.com.
The study noted that previous research has suggested that chemicals in cigarette smoke may allow more plaque-forming bacteria to form in the mouth. This may increase the incidence of periodontal disease.
In addition to tooth loss, Mai pointed out, “Periodontal disease is a chronic, inflammatory condition that may be related to the development of cancer.”