SmilesByGlerum News

Karen Glerum DDS

Smoking Increases the Need for Root Canals?

May 27th, 2014

If you’ve been looking at reasons to quit or trying to convince a loved one to stop smoking, you might want to read on.  Recent studies at Boston University’s Goldman School of Dental Medicine have uncovered that basic factors such as your gender, how much you smoke and how long you’ve been smoking can considerably multiply the need for root canal treatment. The biggest discovery in the findings was that men and women are noticeably different when it comes to dental health.

Men are at a disadvantage when it comes to cavities, gum disease and oral cancer. Smoking doubles the risk for developing these dental problems more than women. As a result, men who smoke also require more root canals on average.

“Our study has shown that men have almost twice the risk of having root canal treatments if they smoke cigarettes, compared to men who never smoke,” said Elizabeth Krall Kaye, author of the Boston University study and professor in the department of health policy and health services.

Does that mean women are in the clear?   Not really, says Kaye. Historically, women haven’t smoked as long or as much per day as men, but Kaye believes that the risk associated with smoking and root canals still applies regardless of gender.

The reasons that smoking makes men and women more susceptible to dental problems is still not obvious. Kaye and her associates think the connection is in how smoking affects your overall health: It decreases your ability to ward off infection, increases inflammation and damages your circulation system.

By quitting cigarette smoking and living smoke-free, both men and women can greatly reduce the need for root canals. It is a proven fact that if you can stay smoke-free for at least nine years, your need for a root canal treatment can drop as low as a non-smoker.


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