Dr Mark O'Donnell B.D.S
Monday - Thursday
Tuesday and Friday mornings
Smokers at higher risk of losing their teeth
A new study published in the Journal of Dental Research has confirmed that regular smokers have a significantly increased risk of tooth loss.
Male smokers are up to 3.6 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers, whereas female smokers were found to be 2.5 times more likely.
Tooth loss remains a major public health problem worldwide. In the UK, 15% of 65-74 year olds and over 30% of 75+ year olds have lost all of their natural teeth. Globally, the figure is closer to 30% for 65-74 year olds.
Researchers explained that most teeth are lost as a result of either caries (tooth decay) or chronic periodontitis (gum disease). Smoking is a strong risk factor for periodontitis, so that may explain the higher rate of tooth loss in smokers. Smoking can mask gum bleeding, a key symptom of periodontitis. As a result, the gums of a smoker can appear to be healthier than they actually are.
The findings were independent of other risk factors such as diabetes, and are based on data from 23,376 participants, which aimed to evaluate the associations between smoking, smoking cessation and tooth loss in three different age groups.
The association between smoking and tooth loss was stronger among younger people than in the older groups. In addition, the results clearly demonstrated that heavy smokers had higher risk of losing their teeth than smokers who smoked fewer cigarettes.
Local anaesthetic may affect development of children's teeth
A study published in Cell Death Discovery suggests for the first time that the use of local anaesthetic may affect tooth cell growth and the development of children's teeth.
The study comes at a time when more children than ever before are subjected to dental surgery – and local anaesthetic – because of tooth decay or orthodontic conditions.
The research found that local anaesthetics commonly used in clinics can affect the proliferation of tooth cells. It is the first time that evidence has been found to suggest that local anaesthetic could affect tooth cell growth and potentially impact upon tooth development.
The study found that longer duration of exposure to high concentrations of local anaesthetic was most harmful because it interferes with the function of mitochondria, the 'batteries' of the cell, and induces a cell death mechanism named "autophagy".
The research team is keen to emphasise that further clinical studies are required before there is enough data to change clinical guidelines, and that parents should not be alarmed or withdraw their children from treatment if they need it.
Stress in pregnancy may raise risk for caries in offspring
Stress during pregnancy has been associated with a number of poor health implications for offspring, including low birthweight and increased risk of asthma and allergies. But for the first time, a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that chronic stress in pregnancy may increase a child's risk for dental caries.
Poor oral hygiene and high consumption of sugary foods and drinks are common causes of dental caries in children, but new research suggests that the levels of stress a mother experiences throughout pregnancy may also play a role.
The research team analysed the data of 716 children and their mothers who were part of the 1988-94 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Children included in the study were aged two to six years, while their mothers were aged 30 and older. Biological markers of chronic stress were analysed during the mothers' pregnancies.
Compared with mothers who had no biological markers for stress, those who had two or more were significantly more likely to have offspring with dental caries.
Researchers said that this study uniquely highlights the importance of considering the influence of maternal stress on children's oral health and said that their findings suggest that policies to improve children's dental health should include strategies to improve mothers' quality of life during pregnancy.