Another World No Tobacco Day is here, and this time with the slogan ‘Protect the environment’. Tobacco is one of the main toxic substances that are harmful to the oral cavity. The two most important dental problems related to tobacco use are oral cancer and gum disease. Tobacco use in the form of smoking, as well as without smoking, also carries a risk of developing various oral problems.
Untreated caries is higher in people who smoke cigarettes. More than 40% of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 who currently smoke cigarettes have untreated caries.
Adults 65 and older who smoke cigarettes are twice as likely to have untreated caries as those who have never smoked.
About 43% of adults aged 65 and over who currently smoke cigarettes have lost all their teeth. There are certain lesions that have the potential to become oral cancer. This includes white or gray spots (leukoplakia) as well as red spots (erythroplasty) on the inside of the cheek or tongue, which cannot be scratched and will be painless in most cases. Gum disease in smokers can also have less noticeable signs, so it can go unnoticed until the teeth drop and fall out.
This is due to low vascularity due to smoke which in turn reduces cardinal signs such as bleeding gums or increased redness.
Things to remember:
»Abstain from tobacco products.
»Make the daily self-examination of the oral cavity a habit to look for non-healing ulcers or red and white spots on the cheeks, lips, tongue, throat, gums, etc.
»Visit your gum specialist every three months for a thorough examination of your gums and underlying bone.
»Practice meticulous oral hygiene.
»Eat a balanced diet rich in dietary fiber.
»Instill the habit of attending screening camps.
»Refrain from the smoky environment, as passive smoking is equally dangerous.
»Practice good oral hygiene using the ideal toothbrush, floss and interdental brushes.
»Avoid the habit of smoking, as they are also predisposed to oral cancer.
»Along with tobacco and nutmeg, they also cause precancerous conditions, which should also be avoided.
(Dr. Manikandan GR, Periodontist Consultant, Government Urban Dental Clinic, Thiruvananthapuram)