Now is the time…to quit
In the 1960s and 70s, smoking was an accepted part of life, especially social life. Over the past 50 or 60 years, evidence about the harm that smoking causes to people’s health has been overwhelming. While number of smokers has decreased dramatically, there are still many Australians who still use tobacco products.Experimentation and use of tobacco or tobacco products often begins in adolescence. Because nicotine is a very addictive drug, experimentation frequently leads to an addiction which is difficult to beat.
Medical and dental research clearly shows adverse effects of tobacco on the health of smokers. These effects range from mild to life-threatening.
The use of tobacco can cause or contribute to:
- staining and discolouration of teeth, fillings, veneers, crowns
- halitosis (bad breath)
- changes in ability to smell and taste
- dental decay
- candidosis (thrush infections)
- periodontal (gum) disease
- delayed wound healing
- increased risk of implant failure
- diseases of the skin in the mouth such as smoker’s melanosis, smoker’s palate, lesions which may be malignant and oral cancer
Research also indicates that people who live, work and socialise with smokers may be affected by “passive smoking”. In other words, they inhale tobacco smoke in the air around them.
Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. These include over 70 carcinogens (chemicals known to cause cancer)!
Children may be especially vulnerable to the toxic chemicals that smokers exhale.
Tobacco smoking can harm gum health in significant ways. Research indicates that the risk of destructive periodontal disease is 5 to 20 times higher for a smoker compared with someone who has never smoked.
The nicotine contained in tobacco decreases blood flow to gums by constricting blood vessels which hinders a healthy healing process. Researchers are discovering common factors between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. Even recently there have been suggestions of links between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Periodontal (gum) disease can result in teeth becoming loose and eventually lost. Loose or missing teeth can prevent you from eating or chewing effectively. The appearance of your teeth (or gaps) can also impact self-esteem and social confidence.
In Australia, 57% of oral cancers in men and 51% in women are caused by smoking. Oral cancers can occur on the lips and in the mouth. As with all cancers, the sooner they are detected, the greater the opportunity for treatment and recovery.
Unfortunately, many oral cancers are often not detected until they are in an advanced stage and the rate of recovery is low.
Our dentists are diligent about checking for oral cancers every time we do a check-up. We understand early detection of oral cancer saves lives – possibly yours!
The Good News
Quitting the use of tobacco prevents or reduces the risk of many dental diseases and conditions. The risk factors for developing or exacerbating many other medical conditions can also be decreased substantially by stopping smoking and the use of tobacco products.
Stopping smoking can significantly reduce your risk of oral cancer. Studies have shown that five years after quitting, the risk of a smoker developing oral cancer is halved.
Fortunately, many adverse effects of tobacco use disappear after quitting. Some improvements, such as the reduction of carbon monoxide levels in the blood, are almost immediate while others are progressive.
Additionally, there are numerous social and financial benefits of being a non-smoker.
Now that is good news!
If you know of someone who would like to quit their tobacco habit, encourage them to speak to their medical GP or their dentist to find out about the support that is available to them. We’re always happy to help with information and encouragement.
Here are two websites that may help start the process of quitting: