Researchers in Japan have recently published a study linking the harmful effects of secondhand smoke exposure in children to an increased risk of cavities.
The studies show a two-fold increase in the risk of dental decay in children who were exposed to secondhand smoke from age 4 months on. The effects of secondhand smoke have long been known to be harmful to oral health, but this is the first study to be published to draw a link directly from exposure to an increase in decay. Secondhand smoke affects oral health in a number of ways including: increased inflammation in the oral cavity and decreased salivary gland function, decreased serum vitamin C, and immune dysfunction. Researchers hope that establishing the link between secondhand smoke and dental decay will encourage more clinicians to warn of the risks of secondhand smoke and tobacco consumption in general. BMJ 2015;351:h5397