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Male Cigarette Smokers More Likely to Need Root Canals


Updated: March 27, 2007

Photo Credit: ©Päivi Rytivaara
According to a recent report from the American Dental Association, males that smoke cigarettes are almost twice as likely to need root canals based on news reports about an extensive study listed to appear in the Journal of Dental Research in April 2006.

The lead author of this study, Boston University’s Dr.Elizabeth Krall Kaye, presented the findings in New York City at a special media briefing hosted by the American Dental Association as well as the American Medical Association.

The Study

This long term study began in 1968, where researchers collected data from aging men in the Veterans Affairs. The participants were all males, whose progression of oral health was tracked for nearly three decades. The study states that these male participants were evaluated every three years for gum disease, tooth mobility, cavities, restorations and calculus.

Other risk factors for root canal treatment such as cavities, presence of crowns, age, signs of periapical infection and bone loss were also taken into account and adjusted for by the researchers.

Risk Factors

Even though the study did find that the incidence of needing root canal treatment was higher in smokers than non smokers, the length of time that a participant spent smoking was also a clear factor. The risk factors of needing root canal treatment decreased with the extent of time that the participants had refrained from smoking. While no female smokers were involved in this research, the study did suggest that, “similar conclusions could likely be reached for female smokers.”


Cigarette smoking has long ago been established as a key risk factor, of both men and women, for oral cancer, lung cancer, heart disease and other medical and dental problems. The findings of this extensive study not only shows data indicating the link between male cigarette smokers and the risk factors of needing root canal treatment, but also reinforces the importance of prevention and overcoming tobacco addiction.

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