Postmenopausal women who smoke are more susceptible to tooth loss
BUFFALO, N.Y., USA: Smoking has long been associated with tooth loss. However, postmenopausal women who smoke may be at particular risk. A new study has found that they are more likely to experience tooth loss due to periodontal disease than their male counterparts and female nonsmokers are.
In the study, researchers from the University at Buffalo obtained a thorough smoking history of 1,106 women. In addition, they examined the patients' oral status and reviewed their dental records.
Among others, they found that smoking postmenopausal women experienced tooth loss more often than men of the same age did, regardless of better oral health practices, such as brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist more frequently, according to Xiaodan Mai, a doctoral student at the university's Department of Social and Preventive Medicine.
Prior studies had demonstrated that nicotine affects hormone levels in women and that estrogen in particular is lower in women who smoke.
Moreover, the authors assessed how smoking was linked to overall tooth loss, as well as to tooth loss due to periodontal disease and tooth loss due to caries. They found that heavy smokers (i.e., at least 26 pack years — the equivalent of having smoked a pack a day for 26 years) were nearly twice as likely to report having experienced tooth loss overall and six times as likely to have experienced tooth loss due to periodontal disease compared with those who had never smoked. However, the study results found no significant association between smoking and tooth loss due to caries.
Overall, the study provided further evidence that smoking is a potential risk factor for tooth loss due to periodontal disease but appears to be less important with regard to tooth loss due to caries. The researchers thus concluded that further studies are needed to explore how smoking affects the different types of tooth loss.
"Dentists should counsel their patients about the impact of smoking on oral health, including the risk of experiencing tooth loss due to periodontal disease," they said.
The women in the study also participated in the Buffalo Osteo-Perio Study, an offshoot of the Women's Health Initiative. The initiative is one of the largest clinical trials in the U.S., involving more than 162,000 women from across the country, including about 4,000 in Buffalo.
The study, titled "Associations Between Smoking and Tooth Loss According to the Reason for Tooth Loss," was published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.