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