Feature

Darts break more than hearts

Dentists in WA are urging smokers to quit and consider the potentially deadly effects of tobacco, in a bid to raise awareness for today’s ‘World No Tobacco’ Day.

‘Tobacco breaks hearts’ is this year’s World Health Organisation theme for World No Tobacco Day, but the Australian Dental Association is also warning people about the risk of developing lung cancer and other oral health problems.

The ADA’s Oral Health Committee Vice Chairman Michael Foley says today is hugely important to continue raising awareness about the detrimental effects of using tobacco.

“We have known about the dangers of tobacco at least since the early 1960’s when the US surgeon general came out and said tobacco causes lung cancer, so we’ve known about the dangers for decades,” Dr Foley says.

“Even though the proportion of daily smokers in Australia has dropped in recent years, that does not mean that there is less of a need to be vigilant about oral cancer.”

More than 300 thousand people are diagnosed with a form of oral cancer every year, and according to the WHO, it’s the eleventh most common cancer worldwide.

The Australian Dental Association says smoking is a major risk factor for increasing gum disease. Photo: Karina Vakil

Churchlands dentist Andrew Phillips says it is important to raise awareness as the effects of poor oral health can lead to greater health problems as well as social ones.

“Smoking is quite bad for your oral health—as most people know. The reason why it is bad is that it can lead to periodontal disease, oral cancer, poor healing after tooth extractions after surgery, and of course, it can stain the teeth quite badly,” Dr Phillips says.

“In terms of social issues like bad breath or stained teeth can affect not only how you perceive yourself but also how others perceive you. So it definitely can extend further than physical health issues.”

Dr Phillips suggests the best way to decrease the risk of oral cancer and other oral health issues is to quit smoking.

“I would suggest people who are smokers seek professional advice and help as to how to quit, be that a doctor or a counsellor, the best way to deal with any issue is to stop smoking entirely,” Dr Phillips says.

“Make sure you’re seeing a dentist regularly, so they can do oral cancer checks and also to check the condition of your gums as well.”

 

Listen to what Dr Foley has to say about World No Tobacco Day.