Karen Gilbert is a forty-four year old female. She has been undergoing sporadic and unexpected sweating spells, fevers, occasional cold chills, and has experienced periods of severe depression. Karen is going through all the classic symptoms of postmenopausal syndrome. She is also a smoker. She has smoked on average a pack of cigarettes per day since she was fifteen.
She has attempted to stop smoking approximately 12 times throughout her short life. She has also encountered other traumas to her health. Shortly before she turned 44, she began losing teeth; a molar at age 40, two incisors at 42, and, eventually another molar and incisor by the time she turned 44. During her regular dental checkups Karen was advised by her dentist that she had severe periodontal disease. The dentist also suggested that she step up her dental hygiene program and quit smoking.
Karen is one of a number of women smokers who suffer from severe periodontal disease and who have lost teeth because of this condition and smoking.
The journal of the American Dental Association at the University of Buffalo released a study on postmenopausal women who were heavy smokers and were inflicted with periodontal disease experienced a much higher risk of losing teeth than postmenopausal women who were non-smokers. Women who pulled out and smoked more than 20 cigarettes from a pack a day were found to loose teeth at an alarming rate. Actually, more than 163,000 women nationwide who smoked lost teeth more than postmenopausal women who did not smoke.
Tooth loss has long been associated with chronic smoking. This new study at the University of Buffalo confirmed, however, that postmenopausal women are even more likely to experience tooth loss than their male counterparts who did smoke.
Even with proper oral hygiene including flossing, brushing, and frequent visits to the dentist postmenopausal women lose teeth more often than men of an equivalent age,says Xiaodan Mai of the University of Buffalo’s Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the School of Public Health and Health Professions. Mai adds that although periodontal disease is a chronic condition smoking clinicians did not see it as the overall sole cause of tooth loss because of caries. Still, periodontal infection has been found to be related to the possible onset of cancer.
The University of Buffalo is also researching to determine if postmenopausal smokers are commonly at risk for cancers with no history of periodontal disease. Tooth loss among postmenopausal women is pervasive and effects a woman’s look, diet, and on her daily living habits. The study was funded and supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
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