Last month, we told you about a study linking childhood caries (cavities) to exposure to secondhand smoke.
Now a new study to be published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology shows that it may not be just the health of kids’ teeth that’s at risk but that of their gums, as well.
Similar to the earlier study, researchers measured the continine levels in children’s saliva, continine being a primary metabolite of nicotine that’s easily measured in bodily fluids. They also measured levels in the subjects’ urine and gingival crevicular fluid – a substance found in the small space between each tooth and surrounding gum tissue, and which some research suggests may be a marker for the inflammatory process of periodontal (gum) disease. Their mouths were also examined for plaque, pocketing, bleeding upon probing and other measures of dental conditions.
As might be expected, the researchers found that those children whose parents smoked showed elevated levels of contintine compared with children of non-smokers, and the greater the exposure, the higher the levels. Children exposed to secondhand smoke from all sources also showed some deterioration of the periodontal tissues, though interestingly, the degree of difference between exposed and unexposed children was greater in cases where the father smoked, but less so when the mother smoked.
Considering the well-established links between gum disease and conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes – not to mention all the illnesses that accompany smoke exposure in and of themselves – it’s imperative to children’s health and well-being that they be spared exposure from this detriment to human health.