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Forum Category: General Dentistry

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Surgeon General’s Report Offers New Insight into Links Between Smoking and Oral Health

This just in: smoking cigarettes may not be the best thing for your health. Ok, so maybe not exactly breaking news; anyone born after 1950 knows this already. However, the implications on oral health specifically that have come to light via the SurgeonGeneral’s 2014 Report: The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress will represent a renewed source concern for future dentists across the country.

In the 998-page report, the Surgeon General suggests that:

  • The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between active cigarette smoking and dental caries.
  • The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between exposure to tobacco smoke and dental caries in children.
  • In developed nations, smoking is strongly associated with sociodemographic characteristics and a wide range of health behaviors that also are strongly associated with elevated risk for caries.
  • The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between cigarette smoking and failure of dental implants.
  • The existing evidence suggests that smoking may compromise the prognosis for osseointegrated dental implants. Thus an intervention to discontinue tobacco use should be part of the treatment plan for persons who are considering a dental implant.

As a healthcare professional, a dentist’s first and foremost responsibility to a patient must be concern for their overall health. Tobacco cessation is an important subject to broach with smoker patients; even though they may have heard all of the arguments against smoking already, it is important that the dentist offer an oral health perspective for them to consider. There are several articles on THE NEXTDDS already that deal with tobacco cessation from both a clinical perspective and the general role of a dental professional in approaching the topic.

Have you as a student broached the subject of quitting smoking with any of your clinic patients? If so, how did the subject come up, and what were the results/reactions like?

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Surgeon General’s Report Offers New Insight into Links Between Smoking and Oral Health

09:49 AM | Apr 09,2015
We have several classes at our school which are aimed at behavioral management of patients. A large component of these courses is how to encourage patients to participate in smoking cessation education and information about programs that our school offers to the community on tobacco cessation. We are taught different behavioral theories and models of change which help us assess the patient's readiness to stop smoking or using tobacco products. We are always told to ask patients who use tobacco if they are interested in quitting and provide them with appropriate information during our medical history interview.

Surgeon General’s Report Offers New Insight into Links Between Smoking and Oral Health

02:26 PM | Mar 17,2015
Tobacco cessation counseling is automatically a part of the treatment plan for all patients who report to tobacco use at our school. For this reason, I have talked about quitting with many of my patients. Unfortunately, most of them just nod and make it clear they have no intention of quitting. The few that I have felt progress with seem to be the younger patients. When I tell them that nearly all of my tobacco-using patients over 60 are in full dentures, that scares them. I have used a youtube video about what tobacco can due to periodontal health (teeth fall out), that tends to scare them!

Surgeon General’s Report Offers New Insight into Links Between Smoking and Oral Health

11:16 PM | Jan 15,2015
Recently at a community wide research symposium, a periodontal resident student presented his research on the effects of chewing tobacco and oral cancer. His findings were inconclusive that there was a positive correlation between the two. What do you think this? From what I am reading, tobacco, in any form, has an increased risk of cancer, however this one study proved otherwise. Is this a topic that more research should be done in? Of course, his comments included, "Obviously, I would never encourage smoking, however my research will make me hold my tongue a little longer to stop chewing tobacco." This article was refreshing to see because the correlation between smoking and caries is often overlooked and not spoken of.

Surgeon General’s Report Offers New Insight into Links Between Smoking and Oral Health

12:51 AM | Dec 03,2014
As I was on my way to clinic this morning, I was listening to NPR, and there was a discussion about Colorado's marijuana industry boom. The discussion talked about the recent legalization of marijuana and how there have not been many regulations set in place on its distribution. As I arrived at clinic this morning, I was reviewing a patient's medical history which indicated they were a regular marijuana user. Reflecting on what I heard on NPR this morning and this patient, I thought to myself what are the implications of marijuana on oral health? Are its oral health effects similar to tobacco? Can it cause oral cancer? Will we see more oral health and overall health effects of marijuana as it starts to become legalized in some states? How do we educate our patients on its effects? As a dental health care professional my concern is always for my patients health and I do my best to try and provide them with the most up to date information. While I know tobacco has signigicant adverse side effects and marijuana isn't great either, I never spent much time until today thinking about how marijuana use effects oral health. We won't know the exact effects of marijuana use yet, but I think it is something to take into consideration as we also consider the link between tobacco use and oral health.

Surgeon General’s Report Offers New Insight into Links Between Smoking and Oral Health

11:24 AM | Sep 28,2014
This topic is definitely one that has been discussed with several of my patients. I have a patient who has advanced periodontal disease and is now fighting to save the teeth that are still viable simply because of his lack of proper oral hygiene in his earlier years. He smokes 10-12 cigarettes a day and is now extremely concerned with how this has chronically effected his oral & overall health. I give him the facts. This is a contributor to what you are now going to but the good news it that YOU CAN QUIT. TODAY! By quitting, you reduce the risk of further damage being done in the future. Be aware, when you encourage people to quit, a good idea is to suggest avenues to achieving that goal. There are quit groups, nicorette gum, pharmaceutical products (Chantix by Pfizer has had great success and has sufficient evidence to support it's usage), tobacco-less smoking systems, etc always try to provide ANSWERS!