THE VANCOUVER SUN FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24,2006
BY TOM SPEARS
OTTAWA – Here’s a painful new reason to quit smoking, one that may scare you more than heart or lung disease. Smoking can more than double your risk of needing a root canal.
The evidence emerges from another in the series of health studies in the Boston area that round up a large group of people and watch them for many years to see how their health changes.
This one focused on all 811 men who were followed for 30 years as part of a larger study on aging. That study included records of their dental health and smoking patterns. It showed:
- Overall, men who smoke have 70 percent more root canals than men who don’t. That’s close to double the normal risk;
- Men who smoke for at least 12 years have more than double the rate of root canals- 120 per cent higher than non-smokers;
- Cigar and pipe smokers didn’t have much more risk than non-smokers;
- The good news: Quitting reduces the risk again. Staying off smokes for nine years reduces the risk to the same level found in non-smokers.
The study is by Elizabeth Krall, an epidemiologist at the Boston Veterans’ Administration
Hospital and professor of health services research at Boston University.
“Because root canal treatment is so common-it’s estimated that half of U.S adults have experienced one by the age of 50- I think people can relate to it more than lung cancer and other smoking induced conditions,” she said.
Root canal treatment is necessary when the dental pulp, the soft innards of the tooth containing nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue, becomes inflamed. The procedure means removing the infected tissue, cleaning the space and filling the tooth to prevent the bacterial infection from recolonizing.