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Does Smoking Increase The Chances Of Needing Root Canal Therapy?

Posted on December 28, 2021

Every medical professional including dentists will universally tell you that smoking is deleterious to your health. It’s common knowledge that smoking is a causative factor in diseases like cancer, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. What is not often discussed is the effect of smoking on oral health and particularly how it impacts the need for root canal therapy.

April 2021 Issue Of Journal Of Dental Research

  •   Cigarette smoking increases the risk of root canal therapy (RCT) by two times. 
  •   By age fifty, one-half of the U.S. population has had at least one root canal experience.

Does Smoking Increase The Chances Of Needing Root Canal Therapy?

In the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging And Dental Longitudinal Studies at the VA Boston, Dr. Kaye in a twenty-eight-year study evaluated:

  • Smoking habits
  • Frequency of smoking
  • Types of tobacco


Researchers found that cigarette smokers were 70% more likely to need root canal therapy than non-smokers. Quitting smoking was effective in decreasing the need for root canal therapy:

  • Smoking less than 4 years increased the risk of RCT by 20%. 
  • Smoking 5-12 years increased the risk of RCT by 40%. 
  • Smoking 12 years or more increased the risk of RCT by 120%. 
  • For a smoker, after 9 years of No-Smoking (cessation), the risk for root canal therapy reverted back to that of a non-smoker. Good news indeed!

Hypothesis as to bad effects of smoking on oral health:

  1. Smoking decreases infection-fighting capabilities
  2. Smoking makes it harder to fend off infection. 
  3. Smoking increases inflammation. 
  4. Smoking decreases circulation and oxygen levels in the periodontal tissues. 
  5. Nicotine is a carcinogen-prolonged use that can lead to cancer, respiratory and cardiac ailments.  

Can You Smoke Before And After Root Canal Therapy?

The simple answer is a resounding NO!

Before treatment of root canal therapy:

At this point most patients are symptomatic, that is they are experiencing pain, swelling sensitivity to hot, cold, and percussion. Your body is fighting inflammation and probably infection. Smoking hinders the production of white blood cells that fight infection. Smoking blocks our blood from bringing oxygen to the infected tissue (pulp). As soon as symptomatic best to stop smoking, you may be placed on an antibiotic and analgesic medication, smoking retards their effectiveness. 

2. After root canal therapy:

Immediately after the procedure, you will be numb, not ideal to place a lit cigarette in your mouth when you cannot feel it. As you are recovering from the treatment your body is fighting an infection. Smoking inhibits our body from fighting infection and inhibits the ability of the antibiotic to do its job.

Call Midtown Endodontist NYC for Root Canal Therapy

At Midtown Endodontist NYC Drs. Steven Lipner and Chiyoon Ahn are ready to treat your toothache. They alleviate discomfort with gentle, precise care. They use an ultramodern microscope to ensure the most conservative and complete care possible. They will treat you as a total person, not just “a root canal”. In their expert hands, root canal therapy is easy peasy, no need to stress. All their patients leave with a smile.


About Dr. Steven Lipner

Dr. Steven Lipner is an experienced Root Canal Specialist in NYC providing his patients with exceptional care. You can see Dr. Lipner at his Midtown East Manhattan practice, LipnerEndo, where he employs the benefits of latest dental technology, from Digital X-rays to High-Powered Microscope to achieve the best results & maximum precision.

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