"The findings substantiate what most of us already know: Smoking is detrimental to your health," Elizabeth Krall Kaye, PhD, MPH, epidemiologist at the Boston VA Hospital and professor in the department of health policy and health services research at Boston University's School of Dental Medicine in Boston, and the lead author of the study. "But because root canal treatment is so common--it's estimated that half of US adults have experienced one by age 50--I think people can relate to it more than lung cancer and other smoking-induced conditions. No matter what your age, you may need a root canal and as our research shows, smoking increases your risk."
Dr. Kaye spoke today at the American Medical Association and American Dental Association media briefing, Oral & Systemic Health: Exploring the Connection, in New York City.
The findings are based on data collected during Veterans Affairs Normative Aging and Dental Longitudinal studies at the VA Boston Healthcare System in Boston. The study, which began in 1968, tracked how men's dental and physical health progressed over the course of 30 years.
"Men visited the study site every three years where they were checked for signs of caries, or cavities, tooth restorations and periodontal disease. Clinicians also took mouth x-rays and documented their smoking habits, including frequency and type of tobacco," explained Dr. Kaye. "From the data, we were able to identify approximately 811 men with teeth that were free of root canal treatment at the study's beginning. That's 18,893 teeth to track over the course of 30 years."
Root canal treatment is necessary when the dental pulp, or soft tissue of the tooth containing nerves, blood vessels
Contact: Mari Megias
American Medical Association