U.S. smokers are more than twice as likely as nonsmokers to have oral health problems, but much less likely to visit the dentist.
Those are the findings of a report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that looked at 2008 survey responses from more than 16,000 dentate adults ages 18 through 64.
Although 35 percent of smokers reported having three or more dental problems – from stained teeth to jaw pain, toothaches, or infected gums – 20 percent said they had not been to a dentist in at least five years, the study found.
The No. 1 reason smokers said they avoided the dentist, the authors noted, was cost; 56 percent of current smokers, 36 percent of former smokers, and 35 percent of never smokers said they could not afford treatment or did not have insurance.
Compared to people who never smoked, current smokers are four times more likely to develop oral conditions, such as mouth cancers, gum disease, and cavities.