HELPTAG:PO_Kids_Smoke_And_Cavities

2016 01 25 16 08 07 584 Cigarette Smoking 200

 
 
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Kids exposed to smoke are more likely to get cavities
 

Researchers have discovered one more reason to not smoke, especially around kids: A recent study found that children exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke had double the risk of getting cavities.

The study looked at the health records of nearly 77,000 Japanese children, ranging from newborns to 3-year-olds. The researchers found that children exposed to tobacco smoke at 4 months old had almost twice the risk of getting cavities in their baby teeth. The researchers also found that children who lived with family members who smoked had significantly more decayed, missing, or filled teeth.

The study also found differences in the oral health practices of children exposed to secondhand smoke compared with children who were not. For instance, the kids exposed to tobacco smoke were less likely to regularly brush their teeth. They were also more likely to drink juice, which can decay teeth.

Secondhand smoke affects children’s teeth

It is important to remember with studies like this that correlation does not necessarily mean causation, and the study’s authors even concluded that it is impossible to determine whether secondhand smoke exposure caused the increase in cavities.

However, there is plenty of research that has linked secondhand smoke exposure to getting cavities in baby and permanent teeth. And when an estimated 40% of children around the world are exposed to secondhand smoke, it would be unwise to not consider the risks of smoking around kids.

For example, when children are exposed to secondhand smoke, they have less of an antibody called IgA in their saliva and more sialic acid levels. IgA helps protect children and adults from cavities, whereas sialic acid leads to plaque and cavities.

Secondhand smoke can lead to oral health (and overall health) problems by also causing the following:

  • Oral inflammation
  • A decrease in vitamin C levels
  • Dysfunction of the immune system

4 tips for healthy smiles

Besides not smoking around kids, parents and caregivers can take other steps to ensure that children have healthy smiles. The American Dental Association lists four tips to help keep kids’ mouths healthy:

  1. First tooth = first dental visit: As soon as the first tooth appears, schedule the child's first dental visit and continue checkups as recommended.
  2. Don’t share spit: The bacteria that causes cavities is passed through saliva, so don’t “clean” items with saliva.
  3. Brushing begins with the first tooth: Don’t wait until all of a child's baby teeth have come in to begin brushing. Make sure to begin toothbrushing with a baby’s first tooth.
  4. Reward good behavior: Keep a sticker chart to reward brushing, and play videos or songs to help get kids in the habit of brushing for a full two minutes.


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