National No Smoking Day falls on Wednesday 13 March this year. This awareness day has been held on the second Wednesday in March every year since 1984. A significant number of people will decide to quit the habit on the day. Even if you’re not a smoker yourself, it’s a good time to support anyone you know who wants to give up smoking, as well as celebrate with anyone who has managed to do so.
Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership is running a campaign to encourage smokers across the region to quit this spring.
As a dentist, I see the damage done to people by smoking every day. From tooth staining and gum disease to tooth loss and, sadly, increasingly, mouth cancer. Over 1,800 people die of mouth or oral cancer in Britain every year. Smokers are also particularly prone to rapidly developing gum disease. Smokers are more likely to have plaque on their teeth, which leads to gum disease. The lack of oxygen in the blood, caused by smoking, means that infected gums don’t heal. Ultimately, gum disease that doesn’t heal can lead to teeth falling out.
In addition to these oral problems, of course smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, including coronary heart disease and stroke. Here’s why:
- Smoking damages and narrows the lining of your arteries. This can cause angina, a heart attack or a stroke.
- The carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. So your heart has to pump harder to supply the body with oxygen.
- Nicotine stimulates your body to produce adrenaline, which makes your heart beat faster and raises your blood pressure, making your heart work harder.
- Your blood is more likely to clot, so your risk of having a heart attack or stroke increases.
Giving up smoking will help reduce your risk of developing any of these health problems and a number of cancers too. Remember that chewing tobacco, betel quid, gutkha and paan are not healthier alternatives. It may actually increase your risk of mouth cancer, throat cancer and oesophageal cancer. It can also make your teeth more vulnerable to decay and can cause tooth loss too.
Whether you are a smoker or non-smoker, having regular dental check-ups is a positive step. In addition to checking your teeth, the dentist will also examine your cheeks, tongue and throat for signs of ill-health that may need further investigation. You may also be referred to a dental hygienist to improve your general oral health.
You can call the Greater Manchester Stop Smoking Helpline on 0300 123 1044.
Your dentist will also put you in touch with organisations which can help you stop smoking. For instance, we frequently refer local Salford patients here for support to help kick the habit for good, and Trafford patients should see here.
Revive Dental Care welcomes new NHS patients to join us at our practices in Monton, Davyhulme, Bexley Square Salford and Ancoats.