A new study has confirmed that regular smokers have a significantly increased risk of tooth loss.
Male smokers are up to 3.6 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers, whereas female smokers were found to be 2.5 times more likely.
The research, published in the Journal of Dental Research, is the output of a long-term longitudinal study of the EPIC Potsdam cohort in Germany carried out by researchers at the University of Birmingham and the German Institute of Human Nutrition.
Thomas Dietrich, the lead author professor, said that most teeth were lost because of either caries (tooth decay) or chronic periodontitis (gum disease), but smoking was a strong risk factor for periodontitis, so that may go a long way towards explaining the higher rate of tooth loss in smokers.
Also, the link between smoking and tooth loss was stronger among younger people than in the older groups and heavy smokers had higher risk of losing their teeth than smokers who smoked fewer cigarettes.
Professor Dietrich added, "It's really unfortunate that smoking can hide the effects of gum disease as people often don't see the problem until it is quite far down the line. The good news is that quitting smoking can reduce the risk fairly quickly. Eventually, an ex-smoker would have the same risk for tooth loss as someone who had never smoked, although this can take more than ten years."