Dangers of Tobacco and Tobacco Substitutes

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In our last blog, we mentioned in passing about the dangers of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. The negative consequences of tobacco on general health and on oral health certainly deserve more mention in a blog of their own.

A growing number of dental offices, including ours, have been participating in a nationwide program to get people to stop cigarette smoking. This coincides with the recent release of a report by the U.S. Surgeon General, “Let’s Make the Next Generation Tobacco Free.” The release of this new report marks the 50th anniversary of the original report linking smoking to cancers and other health issues. There has been significant reduction in use of tobacco; Today approximately 18% of American adults smoke ( and an unknown number of children) as opposed to 42% in 1964.

The new report also quoted alarming statistics such as “ 5.6 million alive today (in 2014) will die from smoking if we don’t reduce current smoking rates”and that the cost to take care of people who get sick from tobacco consumption will be “at least $156 billion.”

Smoking has been proven to increase circulatory and pulmonary diseases: It is a major factor in lung cancer development, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart attacks. Smoking also affects many other organs and systems in the body, including the mouth.

Cigarettes and chewing tobacco have also been associated with higher incidence of mouth and throat cancers. Smoking has also been shown to lead birth defects in fetuses.

Nicotine has been shown to have a detrimental affect on various body systems and specifically on the oral tissues. A recent report by the Surgeon General has commented on the increased use of electronic cigarettes and their danger to health because of the infusion of nicotine.

The report also mentions a relationship between smoking and cavity formation in teeth, second hand smoke and cavity formation in children, smoking and implant failures, periodontal (gum) disease which leads to tooth loss.

As a society, we must do more to eliminate this epidemic.

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