Smokers: More Likely to Need Root Canal Treatment

Are you a smoker?

If you smoke, you might want to give this one a read.

smokers and root canals

A 30-year study uncovered that individuals who smoke cigarettes are actually more likely to require root canal treatment in the future, compared to non-smokers.

The study, presented by the American Dental Association and American Medical Association, found that cigarette smokers were actually 70 percent more likely to need endodontic treatment at some point – 70 percent!! Those are significant findings. Head author of the study, Elizabeth Krall Kaye, Ph.D., shared that “The total amount of time smoked and total time they remained smoke free was directly related to their risk,”… which provides good news for smokers who are ready to quit.

Furthermore, here are two ways that smoking tobacco could increase one’s risk for needing root canal therapy down the line:

  1. Smoking increase one’s risk for tooth decay.

    A smoker’s risk for tooth decay and cavities is increased due to the change in oral environment – particularly because of a condition called dry mouth. Seeing how our saliva acts as an important defense against tooth decay, a dry oral environment encourages tooth decay rather than preventing it. And in many cases, tooth decay leads to requiring root canal treatment eventually. (Our Scarborough endodontist has seen this happen time and time again)!

  2. Smoking increases one’s risk for gum disease.

    Due to the variety of harsh chemicals present in cigarettes, a smoker’s gum disease risk is also increased. Gum disease leads to gum recession, which exposes a vulnerable part of the tooth – the tooth’s root – increasing the risk for root decay (which will require root canal therapy or worse, extraction, if detected too late).

    Besides an increased risk for tooth decay and gum disease, a cigarette smoking habit also increases a person’s risk for oral cancer, and also stains the teeth and causes particularly bad breath. These are all very good reasons to kick the habit if you’re a smoker – no matter how long you’ve been smoking for.

The sooner you quit, the better. You can do it!