Life Health & Wellbeing

Sunday 15 September 2019

Second-hand smoke linked to tooth decay in minors

Secondhand smoke
Secondhand smoke
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Less than one in five of us now smoke in Ireland but too many people, including children, are exposed to second-hand smoke.

New research has found that exposure to second-hand smoke at four months of age is associated with an increased risk of tooth decay at age three years.

Although these findings cannot establish causality, they support extending public health and clinical interventions to reduce second-hand smoke, say the researchers.

The level of dental caries in deciduous (baby) teeth in developed countries remains high - 20.5pc in children ages two to five years in the US, and 25pc in children aged three years in Japan.

While established methods for caries prevention in young children is limited to sugar restriction, oral fluoride supplementation and fluoride varnish, some studies have suggested associations between second-hand smoke and caries.

Prevalence of household smoking among children included in the study was 55.3pc, and 6.8pc had evidence of tobacco exposure.

A total of 12,729 incidents of dental caries were identified, mostly decayed teeth. Compared with having no smoker in the family, exposure to tobacco smoke at four months of age was associated with an approximately twofold increased risk of caries. Risk of caries was also increased among those exposed to household smoking, by 1.5-fold.

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