Smoking: what the dentist sees
The effects of smoking on health are widely accepted. Few, however, realise that the dentist could be the first to notice its consequences. Dentists, through spending much time looking in mouths – at the soft tissues as well as the teeth – become skilled at detecting the sort of abnormalities that may be early signs of cancer. Many oral cancers present in the early, easily-treatable stage in and around the mouth and tongue. These small early lesions, as yet often unnoticed by the patient, can be picked up at regular 6-monthly check-ups.
Other effects of smoking
As well as contributing to some oral cancers, smoking is a known cause of periodontal disease and accelerated build-up of plaque. Today’s holistic dentists are concerned with the state of the mucosa (soft mucous linings) and their patient’s general health. As such, they will often be the ones to bring up that awkward conversation about cutting down or getting help to quit.
A habit made to be broken. . .
Although a leading cause of preventable death in Australia, many of the effects of smoking are reversible. From five to ten years after quitting, the rate of cancer has been found to drop by 80-90%.