How Many Teeth
Are in That Cigarette Pack?
A one-pack-a-day smoking habit
can cost you the loss of at least two teeth
every 10 years, reports the Academy of General
Smokers are about
twice as likely to lose their teeth than
non-smokers, according to the results of two
separate 30-year studies that investigated the
relationship between smoking and tooth loss
among males and females at Tufts University in
In one study, 495
healthy men had their teeth examined every three
years. The men were divided into three groups:
those who never used tobacco products, those who
continuously smoked and those who smoked at the
beginning of the study but later quit. Smokers
lost an average of 2.9 teeth after 10 years of
smoking one pack a day, while non-smokers lost
an average of 1.3 teeth after 10 years. In men
who quit, the tooth loss was 2.4 teeth after 10
years of smoking one pack a day, and this
decreased to 1.7 lost teeth after they quit.
"The good news is
that the risk of tooth loss decreases after you
quit smoking," says AGD spokesdentist Fred
Magaziner, DDS, MAGD. "But the bad news is that
the risk of tooth loss was still higher among
the quitters than among those who never smoked."
Another study at
Tufts University, which looked at 583 healthy
postmenopausal women, and found that female
smokers were twice as likely to lose one or more
teeth every 10 years than non-smokers, and that
the risk of losing teeth decreases among women
who quit smoking.
"The bottom line
is that smoking leads to periodontal (gum)
disease, which leads to tooth loss," says Dr.
Magaziner. "Smoking causes a chain of events in
the mouth that eventually leads to tooth loss.
The chain starts with plaque build-up on teeth,
which is linked to tartar build-up (an even
harder, yuckier substance on the teeth), which
can cause gingivitis. From there, you step up to
periodontal disease, and the final destination
is tooth loss."
The chain can be
broken by brushing and flossing regularly and by
stopping the use of tobacco.
What a puff!
If you start
smoking at age 18 and smoke one pack a day, how
many teeth will you lose by the time you are 35
four and five teeth. The Academy of General
Dentistry reports tooth loss due to smoking at
the rate of 2.9 teeth every 10 years for men and
1.5 teeth every 10 years for women.