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With National No Smoking Day not long now, being on 13th March this year, the British Dental Health Foundation is starting to get the message out to people about oral health and the risks of smoking. In particular, a recent report in the journal Oral Diseases sheds some interesting light on a popular misconception most smokers have, and which we in the dental industry have frequently come across.

New Research Reveals Mouth Cancer TruthMost of our patients who smoke would be quick to agree with the popular belief that smoking filtered cigarettes is healthier, and reduces the risk of diseases such as oral cancer. Recent research has shown that this belief is entirely fictitious, and statistics gathered show that in fact those who smoke filtered cigarettes are just as likely to contract mouth cancer as those who smoke unfiltered cigarettes.

It has been known for a long time that smoking cigarettes significantly increases the chance of developing an oral disease such as mouth cancer, and is the single biggest contributing factor in such cases. I wrote a post recently which highlighted one way in which we in the dental industry can help to spot the signs of mouth cancer earlier, helping to improve patients’ chances of being treated early enough to prevent further development of the cancer.

But it seems that the advice to be given to patients now is that even smoking filtered cigarettes will cause every bit as much harm, and increase their chances of developing mouth cancer, as if they smoked unfiltered.

Of course, the aim of this is not to encourage the smoking of unfiltered cigarettes! But with No Smoking Day just a few weeks away it is well worth keeping this information in mind when offering advice to patients who do smoke.

Dr Nigel Carter is the Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, and has expressed his hope that this recent research will help dentists to get the message out to patients, encouraging them to seriously consider stopping smoking, either on No Smoking Day on 13th March, or any time they wish.

Dr Carter says that, ‘it is quite un-nerving, yet unfortunately predictable, that some people believe filter cigarettes will reduce the harmful effects of smoking. This piece of research shows they do anything but, and the chance of developing mouth cancer remains.

‘There is no shortage of information available on what smoking does to you and why you should quit, yet 1 in 5 people will continue with the habit. Mouth cancer kills one person every 5 hours in the UK. The number of people affected by the disease is forecast to grow, so it’s time for action.

‘That is why the Foundation has lobbied for plain packaging on tobacco packs, and continually raises awareness of the disease through our annual mouth cancer campaign. As well as tobacco use, drinking alcohol to excess, poor diet and exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is often transmitted via oral sex, are the other risk factors associated with the disease.

‘While we would advise people to take a look at their current lifestyle habits that could be putting them at harm’s risk, our advice is loud and clear – if in doubt, get checked out and quit that habit.’

Teeth Whitening Presentation For Dentists

On a separate note James Goolnik, a member of the Board of British Dental Bleaching Society and Principal at Bow Lane Dental Group, has teamed up with Colgate to provide a presentation to dentists to help clear up the very great confusion there is within the industry on teeth whitening, legislation and practical applications.

The presentation is on 13th March and 17th April this year at Henry Schein Dental’s London Centre of Excellence at Marble Arch. Tickets cost £25 + VAT, and can be bought by emailing or calling 029 2044 2818.


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