Dentists across the UK are being encouraged to take part in No Smoking Day by promoting quit aids and directing patients to local support services within their practices.
Taking place today (12 March 2014), the theme of this year’s campaign is ‘V for Victory’ to encourage smokers to keep up the battle of giving up smoking. The theme follows on from research that, for many, kicking the habit takes numerous attempts. It is estimated that 10 million people smoke in the UK although two-thirds wish to give up.
According to a survey by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which is hosting No Smoking Day, 47% of smokers are concerned about the effect that their addiction has on their teeth. Yet knowledge of what smoking can do to overall health is limited.
Smoking is also the leading cause of mouth cancer, which combined with alcohol can increase the chances of developing the disease by 30 times. Statistics show that mouth cancer kills one person in the UK every five hours.
A survey by the BHF showed that people were unaware that smoking is the main cause of mouth cancer. Additionally, a survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) revealed that 89% were unaware of the statistic on how their chances of getting the disease rose when they combined alcohol and tobacco.
The No Smoking Day campaign is supported by the BDHF. Its chief executive officer, Dr Nigel Carter, explained that dentists could play a role in raising the awareness of the effects that the addiction has on oral health: ‘Smoking presents a very real danger to the public’s oral and overall health. Dentists find themselves in a unique position to warn patients of the risks of smoking, which causes tooth staining and exacerbates gum disease – which has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, strokes and premature and low birth-weight babies.’