Smoke screen

In the April issue of the Journal of Dental Research, Boston University Dental School’s Elizabeth Krall Kaye reports that cigarette smokers are, on average, 70 percent more likely to need root canal treatment than nonsmokers. The study, which tracked 811 men for 30 years, found that for those who smoked cigarettes five to 12 years, the incidence of root canals doubled, and after a man had smoked for more than 12 years it rose even higher.

There was some good news: After being smoke-free for nine years, a man’s risk of needing a root canal returned to the level of men who had never smoked. Also, smoking cigars or pipe tobacco was only weakly associated with a higher risk of tooth infection.