Kid's Tooth Decay and Smoking


In Spanish

Young children who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a much higher rate of cavities than children who do not grow up around smokers. This is the finding of a new study, supported by the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and published in the March 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. This study is the first in the United States to associate secondhand smoke with tooth decay, which is a public health problem that costs an estimated 4.5 billion dollars annually. Dr. Andrew Aligne (pronounced "A-leen"), the study's lead author, explains:

These results provide further evidence that passive smoking is harmful to children. Over the last couple of decades we've managed to reduce dramatically the number of cavities that kids get. This study suggests that many more children could be cavity-free if all children were allowed to grow up in a smoke-free environment.

Dr. Aligne notes that previous research has shown that nicotine promotes the growth of bacteria that cause tooth decay in smokers. His findings show that when parents or others who smoke kiss children, they tend to pass on these germs.

Page last reviewed September 2012
Page originally created September 2012
Internet Citation: Kid's Tooth Decay and Smoking. Content last reviewed September 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.