Source: The Mercury, 19 January, 1995, p.11


Smokers alerted
to dental dangers

Smokers are three to four 
times more likely to lose 
teeth than non-smokers, a 
new 10-year study has found. 
Swedish researchers following 
273 people found men who smok-
ed more than 15 cigarettes a 
day faced three times the risk 
of tooth loss than non-smokers. 
Younger smokers faced 4.5 times 
the usual risk. "The combination 
of a high plaque score and smok-
ing was ... the strongest pre-
dictor of tooth loss", the re-
searchers wrote in the Journal 
of Periodontology.

Australian Society of Peri-
odontology president Dr. Peter 
Clark-Ryan said yesterday the 
study, published late last year, 
added to a huge amount of data 
which showed smokers had worse 
dental health. Dr. Clark-Ryan 
said not only were smokers at 
a higher risk of developing 
mouth cancer but smoking also 
worsened and disguised gum dis-
ease. It fooled smoker and 
dentist alike and delayed treat-
ment often until it was too late 
to give any treatment. He said 
smoking constricted blood 
vessels so smokers did not get 
the bleeding, swollen gums and 
bad breath that were the early 
warning signals of gum disease, 
which led to tooth loss and bone 
loss.

Dr. Clark-Ryan said smokers 
should not assume they could 
simply have new teeth implant-
ed because the bone loss and 
poor healing in smokers' mouths 
made implanting difficult and 
dentists unwilling to perform 
the procedure. Even dentures 
could be a problem for people 
with bone loss in the jaws be-
cause dentures needed a firm 
base to stop them being loose.
AAP


Where to next?

Student Questions for this article
Teacher Discussion of this article
Index - Related articles
Index - Chance and Basic Probability
Numeracy in the News - Main Index