How Smoking Around Children Can Lead to Tooth Decay Later in Life

Happy baby kid brushing teeth sitting in basin

You probably already know that secondhand smoke is harmful to the health of everyone exposed to it. It contains hundreds of chemicals, many of them known to cause cancer. Smoking around children is particularly harmful to their developing lungs and immune systems.

But here’s yet another reason to quit smoking – and to never smoke around children. A new study shows that smoking around babies, even those that don’t have teeth yet, increases their chances of developing cavities and dental problems later.

Researchers looked at children who were exposed to secondhand smoke at four months of age and tracked how many cavities they had at three years of age. The children who were exposed to the smoke as infants were twice as likely to have cavities as young children. 

Secondhand Smoke and Children’s Health

The negative health effects of secondhand smoke are well known. Even so, this is the first study to specifically look at the dental health of children exposed to it – even before their teeth have emerged. This study is yet another reason to not let anyone smoke around your children. Breathing secondhand smoke increases a child’s risk of:

  • Childhood cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, liver cancer, and brain tumors
  • Infant death from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)
  • Pneumonia, bronchitis, and delayed lung growth
  • Severe asthma
  • Ear infections

Air filters, ventilation, or smoking in another room will not prevent children from breathing the chemicals of secondhand smoke.

Smoking and Your Mouth

You may already know that smoking can cause yellow teeth and bad breath. But beyond those cosmetic problems, it also increases your risk of gum disease and oral cancer. Some research also suggests that smoking may increase your risk of having moderate to severe jaw pain if you suffer from TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder). 

Get Help to Quit

If you do smoke, it’s never too late to quit. Quitting can be difficult, and you may wish to get help from your physician to increase your chances of success. If you have tried to quit before and didn’t succeed, try again. The health benefits of quitting smoking are well worth the effort.

Within just three months of quitting, your lungs begin to function better and your circulation improves. Within a year, your risk of heart disease – the number one killer in our country – is slashed in half. And, those around you will be healthier too, as they will no longer be exposed to secondhand smoke.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mouth

MedCenter TMJ cares about your health. Your dental and overall health are closely intertwined, so take care of your body for a healthy mouth. If you’re experiencing jaw pain or symptoms of TMD, call us at 713-790-0531 or schedule an appointment online!

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