Second-hand smoke may be a cavity risk

People who inhale second-hand smoke may be at a higher risk from cavities.

That’s according to a study led by Dr Taru Kinnunen, director of the Tobacco Dependence Treatment and Research Programme at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

Dr Kinnunen said that altought the study was still in its infancy, it found that second-hand smoke caused an increase in risk of cavities because smoke still entered the nasal cavities and the mouth – and, as a result, saliva was impacted.

The premise of the study is that when children are subjected to passive smoke, there is a rise in the number of cavities.

With around 21% of the UK’s population still smoking, the risk of developing mouth cancer, the fifth most common cancer in the UK, is a growing concern amongst those in the dental profession.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, says: ‘When you consider that your mouth and teeth are susceptible to the effects of the 4,000 or so chemicals contained in cigarettes, it is encouraging to know two thirds of people who do smoke want to give up.

‘Many people are now aware of the dangers smoking can cause, including tooth staining, dental plaque, bad breath, tooth loss and gum disease, which has been linked to serious medical problems and fatal heart and lung diseases. The habit has also been linked to premature and low birth weight babies.’

Tobacco is the most likely cause of mouth cancer, linked to around three-quarters of all cases of a disease that kills one person every five hours in the UK.

With new cases occurring all the time, many people still remain unaware of the risk smoking poses.
Dr Carter says: ‘The dental profession is in a unique position to warn patients of the risks and consequences of smoking.’

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