Tobacco Smoke Delays Tooth Growth in Children

If you want your children to have healthy, normally developed teeth, quit smoking around them. Children exposed to tobacco smoke may have delays in the formation of their permanent teeth, reports the Academy of General Dentistry.

A recent study shows that exposing a child to tobacco smoke can delay development of the child’s permanent teeth by four months on average; hence, the normal age when a child’s permanent teeth erupt–between age 3 and 6–could be pushed back.

The most significant delays in dental development were observed when both parents smoked, and the least delays occurred when only the mother smoked. Surprisingly, children exposed to smoke only from their fathers showed a high incidence of tooth formation delays, possibly demonstrating that “second hand” smoke can be much more damaging than direct exposure just from a smoking mother.

“This is another strong example of how smoking stunts human growth and development,” says Paul Bussman, DMD, a spokesdentist for the Academy, who adds that smoking during pregnancy can also cause birth defects and other serious health problems. “If the father must smoke, he should do so in a well-ventilated, separate area from the mother and child. Both parents–especially the mother–should never smoke during pregnancy.”

Dr. Bussman says that all smokers should be considerate of non-smokers, keeping in mind that their second-hand smoke can be a detriment to the health of those nearby, including pregnant mothers and their fetuses.

“Ask your general dentist about ways you can quit smoking,” Dr. Bussman says. “He or she should be able to recommend a program that can help you kick the smoking habit for good.

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Wayne C. Harper, DDS
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