According to a report published in the Journal of Dental Research, male cigarette smokers are up to 3.6 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers. Also, the link between smoking and tooth loss was stronger among younger people than in the older groups.
Women are hardly exempt. Female smokers were found to be 2.5 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers.
The research is the output of a long-term longitudinal study of the EPIC Potsdam cohort in Germany carried out by researchers at the University of Birmingham and the German Institute of Human Nutrition.
Thomas Dietrich, the lead author professor, said that most teeth were lost because of either caries (tooth decay) or chronic periodontitis (gum disease), but smoking was a strong risk factor for periodontitis, so that may go a long way toward explaining the higher rate of tooth loss in smokers.
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. 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.”