Secondhand Smoke May Lead to Tooth Loss

For years, smoking has been known to increase the risk of gum disease, but a new study has shown specifically that even secondhand smoke can lead to bone and tooth loss. The study is published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Periodontology.

“This study really drives home the fact that even if you don’t smoke the effects of secondhand smoke can be devastating. Part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle should include avoiding smoke-filled places such as night clubs, bars, and even some restaurants,” said Dr. Preston D. Miller, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, who publishes the journal. “The Academy applauds the cities that are taking steps to make their hospitality industries smoke-free so all patrons can enjoy not only a good time but also good overall health.”

The Brazilian study, led by Dr. Getúlio da R. Nogueira-Filho of the Bahian Foundation for Science Development, found that bone loss in the jaw, which leads to tooth loss, was greater in subjects exposed to secondhand smoke–from either light or non-light cigarettes–than those who were exposed to no smoke at all. The research involved exposing male rats with periodontal disease to cigarette smoke for 30 days while a trial group was not exposed to smoke whatsoever.

Overall, the study concluded, “Low- and high-yield cigarettes potentiated bone loss during experimental periodontitis in a directly proportional fashion.” Smoking is considered to be one of the most preventable risk factors for gum disease. Now, however, even non-smokers with gum disease may seek to avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.

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