If you drink or you’re a man who smokes, keep your dentist’s phone number handy. Those who imbibe or men who light up are more likely to lose their dental fillings.
These two vices aren’t completely to blame for lost fillings. A genetic difference can also cause premature loss of fillings, U.S. and Brazilian researchers found. Using records from the University of Pittsburgh dental school, they studied dental filling failures for up to five years after the initial visit.
The data included information about patients’ lifestyle, including drinking and smoking habits as well as a DNA sample. That allowed researchers to focus on activities and genetic factors that lead to early filling loss.
The fillings were more likely to fail in the first two years among those who drank than for those who did not. Researchers found that male smokers also had a higher overall rate of dental filling loss.
A genetic factor, an enzyme found in teeth, also was linked to an increase in filling failure. The researchers theorize that the enzyme is able to loosen the bond between the filling and a tooth. Still, they cautioned that is a hypothesis that will require more research.
There is some good news: They found no major differences in durability between the two most common types of dental fillings, known as composite or amalgam. Composite fillings are at least as durable as amalgam, they concluded.
The researchers say the findings will promote a better understanding of how individuals’ conditions can affect dental treatment outcomes. One day, genetic details might be used to customize dental treatments.
Until then, know that drinking and smoking can be harmful to your dental health.