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A Look Back

50 years ago Dr. Luther Terry published a report that warned against the use of tobacco. While the dangers of smoking are well known to us today, at the time the report was groundbreaking. It made direct connections between smoking and lung cancer, and was the first official report to do so. Following this report the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health was established with Terry acting as head. The committee was able to establish several other causal connections with smoking. It’s because of this research that tobacco companies are now required to include a warning label on their products.

Updated Report

This past week the Surgeon General rereleased Terry’s report with numerous updates. Many of these changes were listings of additional illnesses and complications that have been shown to be causally related to smoking. The American Dental Association congratulated the Surgeon General on the report after it discovered concrete links between smoking and oral health issues like oral cancers, gum disease and cavities. While there has always been a correlation showing the possible oral damage smoking can do, the Surgeon General’s recognition of it is important in informing the public. Another correlation the report established was that between the smoking of women who are in the earlier stages of pregnancy and orofacial clefts in infants.

Some of the other causal relationships established by the report were:

  • There is evidence to show there is a causal relationship between the exposure of cigarette smoke to young children and the formation of cavities. A smoker also endangers the health of others through the exposure of second hand smoke.

  • There is an increased risk that dental implants will fail when the patient is a smoker. The report states that discontinuing tobacco use is important for patients considering a dental implant.

  • The report also established a correlation between certain socioeconomic conditions, smoking and an increased risk for cavities. This correlation acts to identify numerous health behaviors and habits that occur beside one another, and put people at greater risk for poor oral health.

This report hopes to get the attention of the public and remind them of the numerous ways smoking can affect your health. They especially hope to remind pregnant women and parents of young children of these risks, as they are most susceptible to being negatively affected by smoking. The Surgeon General also issued statements that demanded a more dedicated and intense effort to lowering the use of tobacco products in the United States.

Besides all of these very serious health issues, smoking can affect your oral health in numerous other ways:

  • Easier for tartar and plaque to build up on teeth which in turn makes you more likely to develop cavities.

  • Stains teeth yellow.

  • Causes bad breath.

  • Can cause bone loss in the jaw.

  • It can cause inflammation and irritation of the salivary glands located on the roof of the mouth.

If you are a smoker it’s all the more important that you regularly visit your dentist. Call Dr. D’Alfonso of Lakeway Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry today and schedule an appointment!