Tobacco and Oral Health

The Ministry of health has issued a ban on smoking cigarettes in ublic and it would be therefore be prudent for me to mention the effects of tobacco on your oral health. Tobacco as we know it today, is made from the leaf of a plant, Nicotiana that is prepared especially for smoking, sniffing or chewing. Smoking is the most widely used form but tobacco in general has no know health benefits to any living thing, human beings included. Instead, tobacco use is associated with over 25 different diseases and has been known to cause ill health.

Tobacco contains nicotine and over three thousand other chemicals. It is the nicotine that makes us get addicted to tobacco and therefore remain craving for it. The use of tobacco has been associated with many diseases and I will concentrate on its effects on our dental health. These effects include:

1.Foul Smell - smoke sticks to clothes, hair and the body generally. It lingers in the "nose" for so long and can be pretty irritating. To one who smokes, it is probably "normal" but I would like to inform them that their mouths do smell distinctly of tobacco. Even to us dentists with our masks, the smell is persistent. It is possible to be free of this smell. Stop smoking and keep away from cigarette smoke.

2.Stained Teeth - Tobacco is generally a coloured product, be it smoked, sniffed or chewed. It is the notorious effect of staining teeth. To reverse this staining, one needs to get a professional clean so that your teeth regain their natural colour. Note that I DID NOT say your teeth will become white, but that they will regain their natural colour. To maintain the good looks you must keep off tobacco.

3.Slow healing - This is because smoking reduces the rate at which wounds in the mouth heal. With slow healing comes the increased possibility of getting infection in the wound. Smoking and tobacco use in general compromises dental treatment. The best scenario would be for one to stop smoking. If this is a bit difficult, then one should stop using tobacco for the duration within the time that one is receiving dental treatment.

4.Cancer - this is probably the most serious disease that has been associated with all forms of tobacco use. The long exposure to the many chemicals that are found in tobacco is that leads to cancer. It is not dramatic, neither is it sudden. That may be why many do not recognise its seriousness until AFTER it has occurred. Unfortunately, when it does occur, its treatment may be long and expensive or lead to early death.

Cancer, which comes about as a result of using tobacco, can be avoided by simply avoiding tobacco. The temporary "pleasure" derived from using tobacco is certainly not worth the risk of having cancer.

The conditions listed above are but some of the problems that are brought about by the "soft" drug called tobacco. Economically, the money used in buying tobacco can be put to better use in many parts of our lives. Socially, it restricts our association with many people (the majority) who do not appreciate tobacco smoke.