Cigarette smoking not only harms the teeth by way of discoloring them, it also leads to the increase in the need for root canal treatment, according to a new study appearing in the April issue of the Journal of Dental Research.
"The findings substantiate what most of us already know: Smoking is detrimental to your health," Elizabeth Krall Kaye, PhD, MPH, epidemiologist at the Boston VA Hospital and professor in the department of health policy and the lead author of the study. "But because root canal treatment is so common--it's estimated that half of US adults have experienced one by age 50--I think people can relate to it more than lung cancer and other smoking-induced conditions. No matter what your age, you may need a root canal and as our research shows, smoking increases your risk." Dr Kaye made these comments while she was speaking at the American Medical Association and American Dental Association media briefing, Oral & Systemic Health: Exploring the Connection. The data for this study was collected from Veterans Affairs Normative Aging and Dental Longitudinal studies at the VA Boston Healthcare System in Boston. The study monitored men's dental health and physical condition over a period of 30 years, beginning in 1998. Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp or the nerve of the tooth gets diseased. It was found that 998 teeth received the treatment in the said period. It was found that people who smoked had a higher risk of undergoing the treatment. "For example, the teeth of a man who smoked for less than four years had a likelihood of treatment that was 20 percent greater than that of non-smokers, but the risk doubled in men who smoked anywhere between five and 12 years and was 120 percent greater for men who smoked for more than 12 years," Dr Kaye concluded.