By Dr. Matthew Weekes
November 6th, 2013 Edition
Your dentist has the opportunity to observe and evaluate the detrimental oral effects of smoking in the initial stages.
Smoking ruins a beautiful smile causing discolouration of the teeth, tongue, gums and cheeks. If oral hygiene is poor bad breath will be pronounced.
If one starts smoking in their teens and becomes a habitual smoker into their adult years serious health problems can develop which is often life threating. Some use the excuse that they smoke to relieve or reduce stress, however when smokers quit completely stress is usually reduced.
Smoking can cause breathing problems, lower your resistance to cold and influenza and lack of appetite.
The addictive quality to tobacco is a major concern, and smoking this substance has been implicated as a major risk factor in heart attacks, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease(COPD) including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, hypertension and cancer of the mouth, larynx and lung according to Wikipedia. Chewing tobacco increases the risk of leukoplakia which may lead to cancer as reported by the American Cancer Society.
Tobacco contains several carcinogens. These are components that can cause mutations that lead to cancer. Mutations are a result of the damage or change of a DNA gene so as to alter the genetic message carried by the gene. The mutated gene can also cross over to the offspring.
Tobacco has been reported to cause miscarriages among pregnant smokers and premature birth. Pregnant women should be aware of these life threatening changes and abstain from tobacco use. Also studies show that habitual smoking runs the risk of developing erectile dysfunction and a very high chance of developing lung cancer. Nicotine which is highly addictive has been blamed for physical and psychological dependency.
Your dentist can play a significant role in prevention and encouragement to quit at any age. However since teens are unlikely to listen to counselling from their parents because of peer pressure, the dentist can focus on the worsening appearance of the mouth. Many times when teeth are straightened the youngsters get excited by their new smile and self-confidence increases. They now get many compliments from their friends and relatives. Their new appearance can become a motivating factor to keep them away from cigarettes. Also we can point out to them that smoking will negate the effects of teeth whitening. We encourage them to practice good oral hygiene and abstain from tobacco in order to maintain excellent health.