A new study published in the Journal of Dental Research has confirmed that regular smokers have a significantly increased risk of tooth loss.
Male smokers are up to 3.6 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers, whereas female smokers were found to be 2.5 times more likely.
Tooth loss remains a major public health problem worldwide. In the UK, 15% of 65-74 year olds and over 30% of 75+ year olds have lost all of their natural teeth. Globally, the figure is closer to 30% for 65-74 year olds.
Researchers explained that most teeth are lost as a result of either caries (tooth decay) or chronic periodontitis (gum disease). Smoking is a strong risk factor for periodontitis, so that may explain the higher rate of tooth loss in smokers. Smoking can mask gum bleeding, a key symptom of periodontitis. As a result, the gums of a smoker can appear to be healthier than they actually are.
The findings were independent of other risk factors such as diabetes, and are based on data from 23,376 participants, which aimed to evaluate the associations between smoking, smoking cessation and tooth loss in three different age groups.
The association between smoking and tooth loss was stronger among younger people than in the older groups. In addition, the results clearly demonstrated that heavy smokers had higher risk of losing their teeth than smokers who smoked fewer cigarettes.