If one of your 13 New Year’s’ Resolutions for Your Teeth, we hope that you’re still keeping at it. But if you find yourself faltering, here’s another reason why you should stick to your goal: smoking could be causing cavities in those around you.

Risk Factors for Cavities

young man smokingAlthough we have long suspected that secondhand smoke could contribute to cavities, we haven’t been able to make a conclusive link. However, a new study from Japan focused on early childhood cavities gives us strong evidence. The study looked at the dental records of more than 31,000 toddlers, who were first given an exam at around the age of 18 months. The children were then given a follow-up exam at around three years, an average of about 21 months later. Researchers correlated this data with lifestyle surveys given to the parents and attempted to determine what factors led to higher risk for cavities. The factors that had a positive association for cavity risk included:

  • Being male
  • Being breastfed
  • Not receiving a fluoride varnish.
  • Eating more sugary foods
  • Parents not brushing their teeth
  • Living with a smoker

Living with a smoker led to much higher rates of cavities. Children who lived with a smoker had a cavity rate of 19.9%, as opposed to the cavity rate of 13.5% for children who did not live with a smoker. Despite the strong association researchers noted that this study didn’t prove a connection between secondhand smoke and oral decay.

From Cavities to Tooth Loss and Beyond

Unfortunately, the minor damage of cavities in teeth is not the end of the negative effects of smoking on your teeth. Although tooth-colored fillings can treat your cavities, you’ll need dental implants to treat other effects of smoking. That’s right: smoking increases your risk of tooth loss. And worse, it also increases your risk of dental implant failure.

Put all these risks together, and it makes a strong case for quitting smoking to protect your teeth. After you quit, though, we can repair the damage smoking has done to your teeth. If you would like help dealing with tobacco-related tooth damage, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a Columbia, SC dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.