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Sunday, 27 August, 2000, 23:29 GMT 00:29 UK
Smoking 'puts dental work at risk'
Dentist
Dentists are urged to help patients to stop smoking
Smoking can cause serious tooth decay and prevent fillings and other dental work from being effective, dentists have warned.

Research carried out by a team of dentists from across Europe has said there are strong links between tobacco and a host of serious mouth diseases and infections.

Their study urges dentists to step up their efforts to encourage patients to stop smoking.

The report by the European Working group on tobacco and oral health backs up previous studies which have suggested that tobacco can:

  • Increase the risk of oral cancer
  • Cause gum disease
  • Prevent dental implants from working
  • Discolour teeth and fillings
  • Cause bad breath
  • Diminish sensations of taste and smell

The research highlights previous findings that smoking can stop dental implants, such as replacement teeth and other dental work, from being effective.


Dentists know that smoking is linked to both oral cancer and tooth loss, but this is not so well known by the public

John Hunt, BDA

Their study found that dental implants were more likely to be rejected if the patient smoked.

But the working group also reported that stopping smoking before receiving an implant and for eight weeks afterwards can significantly boost the chances of the dental work being effective.

"There is increasing evidence that tobacco is detrimental to both the initial and long term success of dental implants, and that smoking cessation can be beneficial in improving implant success rates," the report states.

They also found evidence that other dental work, such as the removal of teeth and other surgical procedures can be adversely affected by smoking while it also jeopardised the effectiveness of antibiotics and creams prescribed by dentists.

"Studies on surgical as well as non-surgical therapy report inferior results in smoking patients," the report states.

Stop smoking

The study published in the latest issue of the British Dental Journal urges dentists and other surgery staff to encourage patients to give up smoking.

"The entire dental team should be aware of the relationship between smoking and dental problems.

"The clinic staff should be encouraged to actively participate in tobacco intervention routines and to convey that non-smoking is the norm," it states.

Professor Newell Johnson, of Kings College London, one of the authors, added: "Helping patients to stop using tobacco may be the single most important service that dentists can provide for their patients' general health."

John Hunt, chief executive of the British Dental Association, said the public was unaware of the risks to teeth and the mouth of smoking.

"Dentists know that smoking is linked to both oral cancer and tooth loss, but this is not so well known by the general public.

"By helping patients to quit smoking, dentists can make an additional, very valuable contribution to their patients help."

See also:

24 Aug 00 | Health
22 Jul 00 | Health
10 Jun 00 | Health
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