Gum disease survey highlights smoking dangers
The latest Adult Dental Health Survey (ADHS), which looks at the oral health of the nation and provides statistics on gum disease, has found that many dentists don't routinely advise smokers to quit or record data on cigarette use.
Under 10% of dentate adults (those with at least one natural tooth) and 7% of edentate patients (no teeth) who'd been to the dentist in the previous two years could recall receiving advice about smoking.
Smoking and gum disease
The dental health survey concluded that dental teams should be taking a more proactive role in smoking cessation. Teams are recommended to offer brief advice to smokers on oral health and gum disease that could take less than five minutes.
The Adult Dental Health Survey suggests that the key elements of this advice should include establishing the smoking status of every patient and checking them regularly. They should be asked further basic questions to establish how interested they are in quitting smoking.
Dental practitioners are further recommended to advise smokers and tobacco chewers of the merits of stopping and of the risks to their health posed by continuing. Advice is recommended to be 'clear, firm and personalised' and to be based around only 'complete cessation' being good enough.
Smoking and oral health
The report acknowledges that although the majority of people are aware of the risks of tobacco in relation to cancer, fewer understand how it can affect oral health. It says that dental teams have a unique opportunity to educate people on the issues surrounding smoking and oral health. The reports states the early signs of smoking, like tooth stains and bad breath, are easily spotted and can be reversed.
The survey concludes that poor oral hygiene causes periodontal disease, allowing plaque to form around the neck of the tooth. Toxins from the plaque cause gums to become inflamed, which is known as gingivitis. This develops into the bone around the teeth getting gradually destroyed and teeth loosening and getting painful.
The report says that smoking is a related cause of this kind of gum disease and that dental teams can help improve the UK's oral health by encouraging patients to improve their oral hygiene and offering smokers brief advice on quitting.