Smoking? Now Is A Good Time To Stop!

With the added challenge of Coronavirus, stopping smoking makes more sense than ever

Oral health concernsIt is impossible to escape news about the Coronavirus and nor should we. It is, of course, important that we keep up to date with the latest official information so that we can avoid it as best as we possibly can.

As far as your dental appointments go, our practice is still open and will remain so unless the situation changes and we will advise all patients should this be the case.

In the meantime, our Epsom patients can rest assured that we are doing all that we can to maintain a hygienic environment for the safety of both staff and patients.

As we know, the Coronavirus attacks the respiratory system. How badly it affects us will depend on a number of things but logic says that someone with healthy lungs will probably fare better than those who already have a compromised respiratory system.

This brings us to smoking.

Why you should stop

The Clock Tower Dental Clinic has long advocated that our patients stop smoking, largely for reasons that we will discuss shortly. Specific to the Coronavirus though, chief medical officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, recently told MPs that those who smoke are likely at greater risk of the virus because of their potentially reduced immunity and lung function. He also said that now might be a good time for anyone thinking about stopping smoking, to do so; a sentiment that we agree with.

As more information comes out about the harm that smoking causes, it is surprising that some people actually start the habit. We appreciate that those who have smoked for a long time may find it very difficult to give up, but it is worth the effort and you will find very few people who have quit who wished that they hadn’t.

It isn’t just respiratory issues that smoking can cause though. Other general health issues such as heart disease and cancer are a greater risk if you smoke. There are also a number of oral health issues which we will quickly recap on today.

Oral cancer

Although the risk of cancer in general is higher if you smoke, it is particularly higher in the case of oral, or mouth, cancer. This can affect the soft tissues of the mouth including the tongue, neck and throat. Whilst there can be other contributing factors (the HPV virus for example), smoking is the greatest threat to a healthy mouth.

Whether you smoke or not, our dental team always checks not only your teeth and gums when we perform an examination, but the other soft tissues of the mouth as well, looking for any signs or symptoms that all may not be well. If we detect anything, we will refer you to your GP for further investigation. There can be other reasons for lesions and lumps and a referral is not a cancer diagnosis. Your GP is better placed to determine this and where cancer is detected, early treatment usually provides a better outcome. Make sure that you don’t miss having a check up for the sake of your teeth but also the general mouth area as well.

Periodontitis

Whilst mouth cancer is relatively rare, gum disease is not, especially if you smoke regularly. The dry mouth and irritating chemicals in cigarette smoke are likely to have a negative effect on your gums.

Regular ‘scale and polishing’ by our dental hygienist can help to keep this under control providing it is done soon enough and regularly, but for those whose gum disease has progressed below the gum line and around the root of the tooth, including bone material, you may need to have a ‘deep clean’ to help you to retain your teeth.

This is a much more invasive procedure than a scale and polish and has to be carried out by a suitably qualified dentist. Even with this treatment, there is no 100% guarantee that you will retain the affected teeth. Periodontis can cause bone loss which causes the teeth to become looser and sometimes fall out. Prevention is the best way of making sure that this doesn’t happen to you. Maintaining a good cleaning regime, seeing your dentist regularly and stopping smoking are some of the most important things that you can do.

Stained teeth

Although not as important from a medical perspective, smoking regularly is likely to make your teeth duller and discoloured, often leaving a yellowy brown appearance. A teeth whitening treatment may help in some cases, but more severe staining may require other techniques, for example fitting dental veneers. We are always happy to help patients in this situation but again, it is better to prevent, or at least delay this happening by stopping smoking.

With Coronavirus challenging for all of us, please do your best to stay safe. If you are exhibiting symptoms, please do not come to the practice but call us to cancel your appointment and seek medical guidance.

You can reach the Clock Tower Dental Clinic on 01372 720136.