Tooth loss still remains a major health issue around the world. Nineteen percent of Americans 65 and older are “edentulous” or have lost all of their natural teeth. In the UK 15 percent of 65 to 74 year olds are edentulous compared to 30 percent globally within that same age group. Now, a new study has confirmed that people who smoke regularly are more likely to suffer from increased tooth loss than non-smokers.
Interestingly, recent research published in the Journal of Dental Research found that the association between smoking and tooth loss was 3.6 times higher for male smokers and 2.5 times higher for female smokers.
This long-term, longitudinal study of 23,376 participants was a joint effort between researchers at the University of Birmingham (in Britain of course, not suburban Detroit!) and the German Institute of Human Nutrition. Since smoking is a risk factor for periodontitis or gum disease, this study explains the high rate of tooth loss in smokers. In fact, smoking veils many of the symptoms of gum disease, and a smoker may appear to have healthy gum tissue just like any other non-smoker. Infected gums are puffy, red and bleed easily, while the gums of a smoker will stay pale, thin and resist bleeding.