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Cigarettes and dental health.

A staining of those pearly whites is not the only adverse effect cigarettes pose to a smoker's teeth, a major dental study suggests. Serious gum disease may also occur.

As part of a large dental study being conducted at the Veterans Administration (VA) Outpatient Clinic in Boston, researchers from that clinic and the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia are looking at how the progression of dental disease among otherwise healthy men differs between smokers and nonsmokers. (For this study, a nonsmoker had never smoked or had quit by the time the study began.)

Data from two follow-up examinations over six years showed that smokers develop more calculus (rock-hard calcified accretions on tooth surfaces) but less dental plaque, the bacteriations on tooth surfaces) but less dental plaque, the bacterialaden mucous film that tooth brushing can remove. Contrary to conventional widsom, smokers exhibited no increased risk of developing gingivitis (inflamed and bleeding gums). However, what most surprised the researchers, says Roy Feldman of the VA Medical Center, is that gingivitis proved so poor a clue to serious periodontal, or gum, disease among cigarette smokers. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. One of its most serious signs is alveolar bone loss, the rate at which bone is lost from that area in the jaw in which the teeth are set. The VA data show that this bone loss was greater and progressing significantly faster in smokers than in either nonsmokers or cigar/pipe smokers.
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Title Annotation:may cause gum disease
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 8, 1985
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