-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
TUESDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Adult smokers are twice as
likely to develop oral health problems as those who have kicked the
habit, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention have found.
Compared to people who never smoked, current smokers are four
times more likely to develop oral conditions, such as mouth
cancers, gum disease and cavities.
The CDC investigators also found that smokers between the ages
of 18 and 64 are nearly 1.5 times as likely as former smokers and
more than twice as likely as people who never smoked to have three
or more oral health problems.
Although current smokers were more likely to acknowledge the
importance of oral health issues, they were less likely than former
or never smokers to visit a dentist for an existing problem, the
findings showed. The researchers reported that people who smoke are
about twice as likely to have not been to the dentist in more than
five years or not at all.
The main reason smokers said they avoided the dentist, the CDC
authors noted, was that they couldn't afford dental treatment. The
research showed cost was the number one reason adults with an oral
health problem did not visit the dentist within six months. More
than half (56 percent) of current smokers either couldn't afford
treatment or didn't have any insurance. The same was true for 36
percent of former smokers as well as 35 percent of people who never
The CDC report emphasized that research has long shown there is
a link between tobacco use and oral disease. In addition, oral
health problems could be a red flag for the development of many
serious conditions, such as diabetes, HIV, heart disease or stroke,
the authors noted.
The complete report, by Barbara Bloom and colleagues at the
CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), is published in
the February edition of the NCHS Data Brief.
The American Dental Association has more about
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