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J Public Health Dent. 1995 Summer;55(3):133-8.

Smoking and oral health: a population survey in Finland.

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Department of Dental Public Health, University of Helsinki, Finland.



A survey was conducted to study smokers' oral health behaviors and attitudes, and to determine if smokers were advised by their dentists to quit smoking.


A random sample of 1,200 adults 15 to 64 years of age living in the province of North Karelia, Finland, was selected in each of two study years (1990 and 1991) and surveyed using a mail questionnaire. The 102-item questionnaire solicited information on smoking status, oral health behaviors, missing teeth, perceptions of tobacco's harmful effects on oral health, smoking status and quitting, and advice on smoking cessation provided by dentists. Variations in behaviors and opinions according to smoking status were analyzed.


Nonsmokers reported more frequent healthy oral health behaviors than did daily smokers, with the exception that no difference in toothbrushing frequencies existed among women. Daily smoking was associated with increased use of sugar in tea or coffee, and with more frequent alcohol consumption. Daily smoking was correlated with the number of missing teeth in bivariate analyses, but not in multivariate analyses. Fewer daily smokers than nonsmokers considered smoking to have harmful effects on oral health. The majority of daily smokers, however, wanted to quit. Eight percent of daily smokers reported that they had been advised by their dentist to quit.


Dentists need to provide patients with counseling on tobacco use because of the desire of many smokers to quit. Counseling of smokers by the oral health team requires special attention and skills, because smokers' health behaviors and attitudes appear to be less favorable to oral health compared to nonsmokers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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