Secondhand Smoke May Be Associated with an Increased Risk of Primary Tooth Caries

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The sample size was 2131 (1038 3-year-olds and 1093 5-year-olds) with both caries and smoking data. The subjects were from the Smile for Life project, a prospective oral health promotion project in Flanders, Belgium, and were assessed within this study between September and December 2003.

Key Risk/Study Factor

The primary exposure was secondhand smoke.

Main Outcome Measure

The main outcome measure was primary tooth dental caries, but only cavitated lesions were analyzed for this study. Eight dentist-examiners were trained to screen for caries, their sensitivity ranged between 0.57 and 0.71, and their specificity between 0.87 and 1.00.

Main Results

After controlling potential confounders, the effect of family smoking status was not significant in 3-year-old children (OR = 1.98; 95% CI: 0.68-5.76). In 5-year-olds the significant relationship between parental smoking behavior and caries experience did exist once adjusted for the other evaluate variables (OR = 3.36; 95% CI: 1.49-7.58).


The authors’ conclusion was that there exists an association between exposure to secondhand smoke and primary tooth caries in 5-year olds.

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