We know that a lot of you who are smokers are thinking about giving up, particularly as this month has been Stoptober. If you have given up this month, well done and keep it up!!
But why does the practice have an interest in providing smoking advice? It is part of the job of every dentist and hygienist to advise their patients of the possible effects of smoking on their mouth and to provide encouragement to any smoker who wishes to stop.
There are many effects of smoking that can be seen in the mouth. These include staining of teeth, fillings and dentures. These stains can be difficult to remove. The tongue may be discoloured and the ability to taste foods is reduced. The mouth may become drier and bad breath is common. Whilst these are undesirable, there are more serious consequences of smoking affecting the mouth.
Mouth cancer is about four times more prevalent in smokers than non-smokers and this cancer is on the increase. Gum disease (periodontitis) is around seven times more common in smokers and they will loose more teeth as a result. The disease progresses faster and the amount of improvement following treatment is reduced, especially for front teeth. Bacteria involved in periodontitis thrive in the warm dry environment of a smoker’s mouth. There tends to be more tartar build-up that makes oral hygiene less effective that in turn attracts more bacteria. The body’s immune system is often impaired so it is less able to offer protection.
The uptake of vitamins is reduced in smokers. Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant that is needed to maintain periodontal health and vitamin A is needed by the immune system.
Bleeding gums is a sign of poor periodontal health. In smokers the blood supply to the gums is reduced so this warning sign may not be present and gum problems can go unnoticed. A reduced blood supply also means healing following treatment can be slower. Painful mouth infections are also more common in smokers. These can cause severe bad breath and ulceration that can lead to long-term problems. Of course everyone will also be aware of the effects smoking has on a person’s general health.
Sadly, half of all smokers will die as a result of their habit. The younger a person is when they start smoking the more likely they are to smoke for longer and die early as a result.
If you would like more information on the health risks of smoking or advice on giving up, there are some contacts at the end of this article.
Next month is Mouth Cancer Awareness month and as part of this campaign the practice will be offering free mouth cancer screenings to all patients whom ask for one. So if you haven’t been to see us for a while and are concerned about anything unusual in your mouth or neck please call for your 10 minute appointment and get it checked out.
Dental Advice For Smokers
• Visit the dentist regularly, they will screen for oral cancer and periodontitis
• Visit the hygienist as recommended to help maintain gum health
• Brush carefully twice daily and clean between teeth daily
• Gently brush your tongue to keep your breath fresh
• Use a denture soaking solution to remove denture stains and harmful bacteria
• If you chew gum or suck mints after a cigarette, swap to sugar-free
• Have any unusual red, white patches or persistent ulcers checked as soon as possible
• Eat a healthy, well balance diet, high in fruit and vegetables
Points of Contact
Smokeline 0800 848484
Quitline 0800 002200