cigarette smokeOf course, smoking doesn’t affect just the smoker. Everyone around them is affected, too.

And secondhand smoke is more than just a stinky annoyance. It raises your risk of chronic conditions such as lung cancer and cardiovascular disease, of course. But did you know it may even affect your dental health?

Earlier studies have suggested that secondhand smoke may increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease in children. Now more recent studies suggest as much for adults, too.

Consider the research presented at last spring’s meeting of the International Association for Dental Research – a study involving 3255 lifetime nonsmokers. Each underwent a periodontal exam, and their blood was tested for the presence of continine, a metabolite of nicotine and, so, a sign of exposure to tobacco.

Overall, 57.4% tested positive for continine. Just over 30% had moderate to severe periodontitis.

In the fully adjusted analysis, non-smokers exposed to [secondhand tobacco smoke] had 1.45 times the odds of moderate/severe periodontitis as unexposed non-smokers…. [Secondhand smoke] exposure was significantly associated with greater odds of moderate/severe periodontitis among adult U.S non-smokers.

Other research has shown that exposure to secondhand smoke also appears to raise risk of tooth decay in adults, as well. For instance, one similarly sized study published earlier this year in the Korean Journal of Family Practice, found that higher continine levels were

significantly associated with permanent teeth decay…after adjusting for sex, daily frequency of tooth brushing, and perceived oral health status. This relationship persisted even after further adjusting for age, education, and household income levels….

The moral of the story? To keep your teeth and gums in good shape, steer clear of smoke, period – firsthand, secondhand, or otherwise.

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