Chances are you’ve probably read, heard or experienced firsthand the effects smoking can have on dental health. Tobacco smoke can be very detrimental not only to your overall health, but also to the health of your teeth and gums. Smokers are more likely to have gum disease, experience tooth loss and test positive for oral cancers. On top of that it stains your teeth and gives you bad breath! If there were any shortage of reasons to quit smoking, the Journal of the American Dental Association has potentially got a new one to add.
A team of researchers set out to examine a possible correlation between children who live in a house with smokers or are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke and the occurrence of dental caries. While the correlation has been suggested many times in the past ten years the relationship has never been identified as causal. Researchers went through over forty different past studies and chose fourteen that were in case-control format and had been carried out between the years of 1990 and 2010. In eleven of the fourteen studies there was a strong correlation present that suggested a causal relationship between secondhand smoke and cavities. The evidence still remains insufficient to declare a definite causal relationship, but researchers and scientists alike have already begun speculating why secondhand smoke could cause cavities:
The smoke influences the oral microbiota present in the child’s mouth.
Influence the mineralization of developing detention. That is, it prevents strong, healthy enamel from forming in young children, putting them at risk for cavities.
Decreases vitamin C levels present in the mouth.
Decreases the production and effectiveness of saliva to wash away harmful bacterias.
Causes nasal congestion, which increase mouth breathing and promotes bacterial buildup.
The ADA does not feel comfortable declaring a definite causal relationship between oral cavities in young children and exposure to secondhand smoke just yet. Instead when they released a piece responding to the study they said that the study would act as encouragement for researchers to continue pursuing the possibility of this link in future studies. They also encouraged researchers to take a closer look at the relationship between mothers who smoked while pregnant and the prevalence of dental cavities in their young children. While it can be hard to determine the nature of the relationship between these two things, it’s already been proven time and time again that secondhand smoke basically has the same negative effects as smoking in a milder degree. It would make sense that secondhand smoke increases ones risk for dental caries because smoking does that same thing to actual smokers.
Avoid smoking around young children, and consider smoking completely so that you can live a healthier, longer life with fewer complications. If you’re a smoker and concerned about your oral health be sure to speak with your dentist. Call Dr. Bosse of Greenspoint Dental and schedule an appointment with a dentist who not only does good work, but who cares about yours and your family’s oral health.