Bad breath, rotting teeth, gum disease, and worse, oral cancer. These are just some of the damaging impacts of tobacco to oral health unless smokers quit, warned the HealthJustice Philippines, a non-government organization committed to tobacco control.
While it is a well-known fact that tobacco use poses notorious dangers to our overall health, HealthJustice reminded the public not to brush off the detrimental effects of tobacco use on a smoker’s mouth and oral hygiene. With this, the group reiterated calls to stop the deadly habit in line with the commemoration of National No Smoking Month this June.
“Quit smoking and using all forms of tobacco as a first step to ease the burden of oral diseases. Improve your oral hygiene and prevent further damage to your teeth, gums, tongue and mouth by seeking guidance from your dental healthcare provider so you can reverse or treat any adverse effect you are experiencing. As a bonus, this might just restore your most pleasant smile,” said Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan of HealthJustice.
For starters, unpleasant odor from smoking stays in the mouth and stinks the breath; nicotine in cigarettes discolors the teeth to yellow or brown making it prone to tooth decay; and smokers are at a higher risk of developing inflamed gums that may progress to gum disease, HealthJustice highlighted.
Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed, use of any form of tobacco increases the risk of oral or mouth cancer. Plus, tooth decay was found to be higher in cigarette smokers, while smokers were 3 times more likely to lose their teeth.
In detail, CDC data showed 44% of adult smokers (25-64 years old) had tooth decay, while 43% of older adult smokers (65 years old and above) had lost all their teeth.
“When you stop smoking and using any tobacco product, you can reap long-term benefits for, not just your oral health, but your whole well-being. You distance yourself from tobacco-related noncommunicable diseases or NCDs like cancers, and lung or heart disease. It’s not too late to quit and find the support or interventions you need to break free from this addiction,” added Galvez Tan.
In the Philippines, among Filipino adults aged 15 years and above, 19.5% or 15.1 million are tobacco users, wherein 14.4 million of them smoke tobacco products, based on the 2021 Global Adult Tobacco Survey. In addition, only 3.9% of these current smokers quit the habit entirely, while 63.7% still plan on quitting.
Globally, there are an estimated 1.13 billion smokers around the world. Each year, about 7.4 million die directly due to smoking tobacco, according to the NCD Alliance.
Meantime, in its 2021 policy brief, the NCD Alliance asserted to integrate oral diseases in the control and prevention response. It was noted that oral diseases, along with other NCDs, share the same risk factors which include tobacco use. It was also pointed out that poor oral health should be included as a risk factor to NCDs.
Media Consultant, HealthJustice Philippines