Why Your Hygienist is Concerned That You Smoke

May 17, 2016

A scary Statistic: 45,000 Canadians die every year from tobacco related diseases. This is the equivalent of two jumbo jets crashing every week. There would be an outrage if all those jets actually crashed but tobacco related deaths don’t cause an outrage. Also, every year more than 1000 non-smoking Canadians die from second hand smoke.

If you are thinking of giving up tobacco use , it’s not necessary to go cold turkey and suffer from symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Avoid this by participating in local smoking cessation classes and support groups in conjunction with using recommended medications or nicotine replacement therapy. Your Dental Hygienist can direct you to some local support.

It is important to maintain thorough home care: brush, floss, and use a tongue scraper daily. Get regular professional dental check-ups, cleanings and oral cancer screenings. As your Dental Hygienist, the most advice I can give is to quit smoking. Quitting smoking immediately improves over-all health and well-being.
Most people are aware of the health problems that can be linked to smoking. A large amount of literature documenting the adverse effects on smoking on health is available. however, smoking also affects the health of your oral tissues (gums, tongue and mouth) and affects the appearance of your teeth. as your Dental Hygienist, I am concerned about the effects of smoking on your overall health and your oral health. All forms of tobacco pose dental health concerns, not just cigarettes. This includes cigars, cannabis, smokeless tobacco and hookahs.

Some shisha (used in hookah) doesn’t contain tobacco but this type of smoking is still harmful as one is inhaling a combustible. The act of inhaling a combustible is harmful to the lungs. Hookah smoke can damage the lungs and heart just as much as cigarette smoke. Many users feel it is less harmful than cigarette smoking, since the smoke passes through water, but this does not filter out cancer causing chemicals. Candy and fruit flavoured shisha makes it more tempting for young people to partake which is concerning.

E-cigarettes are battery operated devices that emit vapour instead of smoke. They mimic the smoking experience. There are no regulations for the manufacture of e-cigarettes and some labelled as nicotine-free have been found to actually contain nicotine. E-cigarettes that contain nicotine are not legally sold, manufactured or imported in Canada. They are available, but illegally. There is no data on short or long-term use of e-cigarettes yet. There is also no final research n any health effects. Some first generation e-cigarettes exploded causing harm to the users. Warning: If a toddle gets a hold if the e-juice and swallows it, it can be fatal. In Canada it is illegal to make a health claim regarding an e-cigarette product’s ability to aid in smoking cessation or to suggest that it is a safer alternative to smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes.

So what are the dental implications of tobacco use?
Smoking is significant risk factor for gum disease and bone loss. Smokers are 4x more likely to have advanced periodontal disease than people who have never smoked.

Smoking can also contribute to:

-dry mouth
-stained teeth
-altered taste & sense of smell
-delayed healing after dental work
-premature aging
-increased build up of tartar/plaque
-discoloured tongue
-bad breath
-oral cancer

Tobacco use is the main cause of oral cancer. Tobacco contains chemicals to are harmful to the human body and 80-90% of oral cancers are linked to the smoking or chewing of tobacco. There are over 7000 chemicals in a cigarette and over 70 of these chemicals are known carcinogens. As your Dental Hygienist, the most important advice I can give is to quit smoking. Quitting smoking immediately improves overall health & well-being.

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