A new study published in the BMJ shows that children who are exposed to second-hand smoke at four months of age may show a highly increased risk of tooth decay when they are three years old.
Although we tend to spend a great deal of time considering the amount of sugar in the diets of young children, the study notes that we also need to be aware that secondhand smoke plays a role in the presence of dental caries.
Secondhand smoke causes harm by increasing inflammation around the oral membrane and damaging the salivary gland. Furthermore, secondhand smoke causes a decrease in Vitamin C levels in the body.
The study also shows that “Children exposed to passive smoking also have lower salivary IgA levels and higher levels of sialic acid with higher activity. Sialic acid enhances the agglutination of S. mutans, leading to the formation of dental plaque and caries.” The research team studied 76,920 children living in Kobe, Japan for the study.
In the end, the researchers found that “compared with having no smokers in the family, exposure to tobacco smoke at 4 months of age was associated with an approximately twofold increase in the risk of caries.” While causation was not determined in the study, at the very least there is more evidence that patients and dentists should have honest conversations about the potential repercussions of secondhand smoking on the dental health of children.
If you have any lingering questions about your dental health or if you would like to schedule a dental exam, please contact our team or make an appointment. Our incredible staff will give you the best dental care possible.