Tobacco makes you toothless

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Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to lose teeth, a large study from Sydney University has found. The authors of the study have concluded, “Although the risk of experiencing tooth loss declines with time since smoking cessation, the effects of smoking may persist for at least 30 years.”

The conclusions are drawn from data from a questionnaire administered to 103,042 participants in the 45 and Up Study conducted in New South Wales. The authors used logistic regression analyses to determine associations of cigarette smoking history and ETS with edentulism, and they adjusted for age, sex, income and education.

Current smokers were 2.5 times as likely to have lost all of their teeth as people who never smoked. Former smokers were 1.5 times as likely to have lost all of their teeth.

The more cigarettes a day someone smoked, the higher the risk for tooth loss. The highest risk was among current smokers who smoked 25 or more cigarettes a day. It was lower for those who smoked 1 to 14 cigarettes a day.
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This pattern held in former smokers, too. Those who had smoked the most cigarettes in the past were almost twice as likely to have lost all of their teeth as those who had smoked the fewest. The time a person had smoked also mattered. Risk of tooth loss was highest for people who had smoked 50 years or more. It was lower for people who had smoked for 35 years or fewer.

Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke also increased the chances of tooth loss. People who had never smoked were 1.22 times as likely to lose teeth if they were exposed 1 to 5 hours a week to someone else’s smoke. This went up to 1.37 for people who were exposed for 6 or more hours a week.

The authors conclude that smoking is an important factor that increases the risk of tooth loss. It’s also one that people can change. There are clear benefits to stopping smoking, though the risk of tooth loss appears to continue long after smoking stops. The reasons for this aren’t known, and the authors suggest more study.

The study appears in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

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