We all know smoking is bad for us, upping our risk of so many diseases, from periodontitis (gum disease) to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and emphysema. It also increases the disease risk of those around us, courtesy of the effects of secondhand smoke. And recent research indicates one rather surprising disease in children that seems to be aggravated by secondhand smoke: caries, or cavities.
According to a study reported on in the latest issue of Ontario Dentist, the journal of the Ontario (Canada) Dental Association, young children exposed to cigarette smoke (“passive smoking”) had, in comparison to a control group,
- More caries;
- Higher counts of S mutans and lactobacilli (microbes involved in dental decay); and
- “Declines in salivary pH, flow rate and buffering capacities,” all of which contribute to the proliferation of dental biofilm (“plaque”) and, thus, tooth decay.
Moreover, the children exposed to cigarette smoke were grouped by how many cigarettes were smoked in their home daily. Those in households that smoked most “showed different dose-response relationships between cotinine level and number of cigarettes smoked,” continine being a primary metabolite of nicotine that is easily measured in body fluids.
This study was originally published in Archives of Oral Biology (2008), and you can read the abstract here.
The moral of the story? It’s the usual one: if you smoke, quit; and if you can’t or won’t, at least don’t smoke around other adults without their permission, and don’t smoke around kids at all.
Quit smoking resources from the CDC
Natural remedies to help you quit smoking from About.com