If you are planning to stop smoking in October, why not now? Says Dr Suky Ghuman of Cygnet Dental.
Traditionally, October is the month for the anti smoking campaign, ‘Stoptober’, run by Public Health England. Throughout the country, there are exhibitions and roadshows, along with general publicity to help people stop smoking.
Although we are a month away from the start of this campaign; if you are thinking of stopping anyway, or are a smoker who hasn’t yet taken action to do so, why not take the step a few weeks earlier?
There are many good reasons to stop smoking. The effect on your pocket is certainly one that deters some people, with a dramatic rise in the price of tobacco products over recent years. Whilst you will obviously benefit financially if you stop smoking, there are other reasons, from a health perspective, why you should do so.
Let’s start with the big one. Most people now understand cancer to be very serious, and potentially fatal. Lung cancer is the one most associated with smoking, but other cancers may be caused by the habit too. One type of cancer which certainly is, is of particular concern to the dentists at the Cygnet Dental Practice in Wickford i.e. mouth cancer.
Smoking is considered to be the most significant risk factor for oral, or mouth, cancers. Whilst others, such as alcohol, may also contribute, stopping smoking is the biggest thing that you can do to prevent this problem which has seen a rise of just under 70% (1) in the past twenty years.
Oral cancer can prove fatal or life changing (2) and should not be ignored. As part of your regular six monthly check up at our practice, we make sure to check for any potential symptoms that may indicate oral cancers If we do find any, we will refer you to your GP for further investigation. If we do this, please remember that our role is a front line role to detect any changes in your mouth. We are not able to diagnose cancer directly, which is why we refer you to your GP. It may well be that there are other reasons for the signs that we have noted, so please don’t panic if we refer you.
We have written in other blogs about some of the risks of gum disease. Aside from unpleasant side effects such as halitosis and sore gums, tooth loss is quite possible unless you have it treated in the early stages.
Above all, our Wickford and Rayleigh patients should take steps to avoid gum disease from occurring in the first place. Cleaning, flossing and seeing a hygienist for a regular thorough cleaning are important, but you can also take other steps. One of these is to stop smoking. Smokers tend to have a dry mouth, the perfect breeding ground for gingival bacteria. Not only that, but any small cuts or lesions can become aggravated by the smoke and infection is more likely.
Besides the smell of cigarette smoke on your breath and your clothes, this dangerous habit can also leave other very visible signs. None more so than ‘smoker’s teeth’. The level of this will depend on how strong the cigarettes are that you smoke, and how long you have smoked for. Heavy, long term smokers are likely to find their teeth going a deep shade of brown, whilst lighter or less frequent smokers are likely to notice a more ‘yellowing’ effect. Both of these mean that your teeth will look much less attractive than if you hadn’t smoked.
Our Wickford cosmetic dental team are able to offer people suffering with this problem, a couple of possible solutions. Whilst we can carry these out at any time, it is far better if you stop smoking first. In fact, why not use the money saved from kicking the habit to treat yourself to nicer looking teeth!
Our custom home whitening treatment is popular with many patients, and lighter smokers especially can benefit from it. It is a straightforward and non invasive treatment that can give your teeth a real boost. In addition to this, any discolouration caused by the ageing process can also be reversed.
Whilst a teeth whitening procedure may offer some benefits to a heavier smoker, there is a possibility that the improvements will be limited. We will be able to offer advice on this during your consultation. Where this is the case, porcelain dental veneers may be the ideal solution. Instead of attempting to whiten your natural tooth surface, these very thin veneers are instead, used to replace it. By removing a fine layer of the affected enamel from your teeth and replacing it with a veneer, your teeth can look almost like new.
This is a more invasive treatment than a teeth whitening procedure, but with good care, the veneers should last you for around ten years once the procedure is completed. If you smoke, remember that you are not the only one trying to stop. There are support groups available and your GP should be able to direct you to other help resources too.
So why not beat the rest to it and start your attempts to stop smoking a month earlier? ‘Stoptember’ may not have the same ring to it, but an early start to better health surely can’t be a bad thing!
Dr Suky Ghuman is a dentist seeing patients local to Wickford, Essex at the Cygnet Dental Practice (GDC 177546)