Secondhand smoke might be causing your kids more harm than you can imagine. According to new research, secondhand smoke could play a causal role in kids’ cavities.
It is a known fact that cigarette smoking can cause oral health problems in the smoker. It is linked to increased tooth plaque and tartar, gum disease, tooth discoloration, bone loss, delayed healing from tooth extraction and periodontal treatment, and even mouth cancer. But now, a growing body of research suggests that even non-smokers are at risk of these problems, if they are exposed to secondhand smoke.
The new study, published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, looked at 15 studies published between 1990 and 2010. After analyzing the findings, the researchers found a ‘possible causal relationship’ between secondhand smoke and tooth decay or cavities. Results remained the same even after taking into account other factors like the child’s socioeconomic status.
So how does secondhand smoke affect the child’s risk of cavities?
A commentary published within the study provided explanation regarding the link between secondhand smoke and risk of cavities. It says “Proposed mechanisms linking exposure to SHS with caries risk include influencing oral microbiota (the microorganisms of the mouth); influencing the mineralization of developing dentition; increasing environmental cadmium levels; decreasing vitamin C levels; decreasing immune function; decreasing the production and effectiveness of saliva by affecting the development and function of salivary glands; and by causing nasal congestion, which could increase mouth breathing.”
Are smokeless cigarettes safer?
Like cigarettes, other forms of tobacco (smokeless tobacco products, particularly cigar and pipe contain at least 28 chemicals that have been shown to increase the risk of oral cancer and cancer of the throat and esophagus. They can also irritate gum tissues, causing the gum to recede or pull away from the teeth. Once the roots of the teeth become exposed, they become more susceptible to infection- and decay-causing bacteria. Exposed teeth roots are also more sensitive to hot and cold or other irritants, making eating and drinking uncomfortable.
Tobacco, smokeless tobacco products, particularly cigar and pipe contain at least 28 chemicals that have been shown to irritate gum tissues, causing the gum to recede or pull away from the teeth. Once the roots of the teeth become exposed, they become more susceptible to infection- and decay-causing bacteria.
Furthermore, smokeless tobacco products also contain sugars which increase the risk of tooth decay. In a study reported in the Journal of the American Dental Association, people who chew tobacco have significantly higher risk of developing tooth decay. They also contain sand and grit which can weaken teeth.
If you are a smoker, you may want to consider quitting now. Smoking causes harm to others as it causes harm to your own health. If you have a child, the more you want to quit smoking. Secondhand smoke does not only cause oral health problems in your children, but also other debilitating health conditions such as asthma, poor immunity and even cancer. So before it becomes too late, better quit now.