World no tobacco day 2023: Tobacco is a global threat to declining health. It is a potent habit-forming product that has influenced human behaviour for over four centuries. Smoking tobacco use is 10.38%, and smokeless tobacco use is 21.38% in India. Tobacco is consumed orally, such as smoking g and smokeless tobacco. Tobacco addiction is driven by nicotine, but the culprit is other harmful chemicals such as Carbon Monoxide, Tar and potential carcinogens like Benzopyrene or Nitrosamine. Tobacco has well-documented detrimental effects on the body, but the side effects have been noticeable since it is first exposed to the oral cavity.
Dr Eshani Saxena, Public Health Specialist, HealthCube, shares the impact of smoking on the oral cavity, including:
Oral cancer: Oral cancer cause mortality worldwide and the global burden of oral cancer, making it the most common cancer in India. Oral cancer is any malignant neoplasm found on the lip, floor of the mouth, cheek lining, gingiva, palate or tongue. The risk factors for oral cancer are cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, betel nut chewing, human papillomavirus (HPV), severe alcoholism and poor dental hygiene. In India, 90 -95% of the oral cancers are squamous cell carcinoma, a potentially malignant disorder. Therefore, quitting tobacco and early screening by self-examination and regular dental check-ups are crucial for successful treatment outcomes.
Periodontal disease: Tobacco use, whether in the form of smoking or smokeless variants, significantly increases the risk of developing periodontal disease. This leaves the gums vulnerable to bacterial growth, leading to inflammation, recession, and periodontal disease. In addition, smokeless tobacco products, such as snuff, contain irritants that can irritate and damage the gums, causing recession and tooth loss.
Stained teeth and bad breath (Halitosis):Tobacco use leaves an unsightly mark on the teeth, causing yellow or brown stains that can be difficult to remove. In addition, the tar and nicotine in tobacco products adhere to the enamel, leading to discolouration and a dull smile. Smoking and chewing tobacco also contribute to bad breath, leaving a foul odour that can be persistent and embarrassing.
Delayed healing and complications: Tobacco use impairs the body's healing ability after oral surgeries or dental procedures. Smoking constricts vessels, reducing blood flow to the gums and surrounding tissues and hindering healing. In addition, it increases the risk of postoperative infections, dry sockets after tooth extraction, and complications following oral surgeries.
Decreased sensation and taste: Smoking affects the taste buds and reduces the ability to experience flavours fully. Ensure you visit your dentist regularly and understand tobacco-related issues.
Quitting tobacco: Speak to your Dentist/Tobacco intervention specialist for help. Nicotine replacement treatment should be started in consultation with a certified practitioner. Treatment followed by counselling sessions and support groups can help with withdrawal symptoms and rebounds.
Dental hygiene is essential: Use mouthwash and fluoridated toothpaste to clean the mouth.
Dentists can screen for early signs of dental problems and oral cancer.
Breaking free from tobacco is a challenging but enriching journey. By quitting, you can safeguard your oral health, reduce the risk of serious diseases, and enjoy a healthier, brighter smile. Remember, there is always time to start on the path to a tobacco-free life and a healthier mouth.