Dental surgeon, Sarah Nackasha offers some advice for those wavering.
Although there are probably some smokers who will never stop unless absolutely forced to do so, the majority of people who smoke would probably prefer to quit if they could. A combination of health awareness, rising costs and a lack of places to smoke in public (1) means that some of the ‘pleasures’ associated with smoking cigarettes have largely been taken away.
As some of our Bedford patients will be aware, we will soon be coming up to ‘Stoptober’ a month of public health information, provided by Public Health England, which is designed to help and encourage people to stop smoking. For today’s blog, we thought that we would offer our own contribution to this debate a little earlier than usual. Here are some of the main reasons that the team at The Dental Centre Bedford came up with when we asked them why they thought people should ‘stub it out’.
Money and health
If you can’t convince people that smoking isn’t good for them, the dramatic rise in the cost of cigarettes over the past few years should go some way to correcting this. If you smoke even 10 cigarettes each day, at an approximate price of say £10 for 20 (and that is cheaper than many!); over the course of a year, you would have spent £1,825.00. We are pretty sure it’s easy enough to think of lots of things where that sort of money would be better spent!
Health is an issue that we perhaps close our eyes to when it isn’t affecting us directly. Anyone who knows someone who suffers from a smoking related disease though, is very likely to make more effort to stop. Don’t wait until it affects you or someone else; help to avoid health issues all round by stopping smoking.
The ageing process
You can often tell a long term smoker by their complexion as many smokers generally have dry and old looking skin. Smoking dehydrates the skin and, over time, it will lose its elasticity at a faster rate than a non smoker, leaving you looking older than your years.
Oral health issues
As qualified and experienced dentists, we are all too aware of the dangers that smoking can bring to your mouth, teeth and gums. Some of these are very serious indeed, whilst others can aesthetically destroy an otherwise attractive smile.
Oral cancer – This is the big one. With oral cancers on the rise, we hope that this issue will start to be taken even more seriously Whilst lung cancer is probably the disease most often associated with smoking, oral, or mouth, cancer can be equally deadly. With nearly 2,500 people dying of oral cancer each year (2) , it is time that people were made more aware of this issue. Even those who survive can suffer from life changing disfigurements, especially if the disease is not detected in its early stages.
Early detection is important, and, the sooner treatment can be started, the better the outcome, in general. When you have your teeth checked at our Bedford practice on a six monthly basis, this is one of the key things that we look for.
We have mentioned the dehydrating effect of smoking earlier, when we discussed ageing skin. Dehydration can also cause a major oral health issue, namely gum disease. As the bacteria that can lead to this become out of control in the warm and dry environment of a dry mouth, you may start to notice symptoms such as sore or bleeding gums. This is almost certainly due to gum disease. Providing that this is not too advanced, a professional clean by our oral hygienist may be sufficient to reverse the problem. Do not ignore these signs though, as the treatment for advanced gum disease, sometimes known as a ‘deep clean’, is far more invasive and may still result in the loss of teeth, depending on the circumstances.
Another consequence of gum disease is bad breath, or halitosis. As the bacteria digest the flesh, they emit foul smelling gases. If you have persistent bad breath, it is far more likely that you have gum disease than it being something that you have eaten.
Perhaps the most visibly noticeable effect of smoking is on our teeth. Whether you are a heavy or light smoker, some of the tar is almost certain to stick to your teeth, gradually reducing their whiteness. Where the problem is not too severe, it may be possible to reverse this effect by using our custom teeth whitening treatment. This is a non invasive treatment that is carried out at home, with custom made ‘whitening trays’ made individually for you, making them more comfortable and safer than shop bought ones. They are also much more effective.
Where the teeth have become very heavily stained, probably from heavy long term smoking, this treatment may offer some, but probably not sufficient, improvement. In cases of badly stained teeth, it may be preferable to replace the damaged surface with porcelain veneers. At The Dental Centre Bedford, this can be provided more quickly than at many dental practices, through the use of our Cerec technology, which allows us to produce high quality veneers whilst you wait. The production time is approximately one hour or so and this technique will usually avoid the need for a second visit.
If you are a smoker and would like to have an oral health check, or would like to discuss one of the cosmetic dental options mentioned in this blog, please arrange an appointment by calling our practice on 01234 819868.
Dentist, Dr Sarah Nackasha (GDC 74960)