On No Smoking Day, remember what tobacco does to your mouth.
It’s not that long since it was considered ever so cool to smoke. Looking back to Hollywood’s golden age, some of the greatest movie stars were hardly seen without a cigarette dangling from their lips. Humphrey Bogart puffed his way to Casablanca and back – it supposedly added to his mystique, while the glamorous Bette Davis drew fashionably on a cigarette as the credits started to roll in the classic weep inducing Now Voyager.
Many filmgoers happily followed suit. In 1948 it was estimated that around 82% of Britain’s adult male population consumed tobacco.
People were led to believe that cigarettes actually benefited health. It was hardly surprising given that some tobacco companies even used doctors to endorse their product.
How times have changed, 2014 marks the 30th anniversary of No Smoking Day. This year the campaign harks back to the fume-filled forties with a Churchillian (hold on, wasn’t Churchill a renowned cigar smoker?)V-for-Victory theme to remind us what tobacco can do to our health.
But should we really need reminding? Smoking can kill. There can be no starker message than that. It’s written on the packet to ward off buyers, yet there remains a significant number of people in the UK who resist that warning.
Over the past three decades posters, leaflets and adverts have intoned against tobacco. Hard-hitting images on TV help to drive home the message. The latest advert follows the trail of smoke-corrupted blood as it journeys through one man’s arteries en route to his heart and brain. It’s a sight that should put anyone off the dreaded weed – yet many smokers drag their feet, preferring instead to drag on a cigarette.
Previous campaigns targeted the effect of smoking on various body parts including lungs, arteries and skin. Well, if that didn’t clinch it, the image of a drooping cigarette – a tilt at male impotence- would surely drill down deep into our collective psyche.
At least the signs are encouraging. Latest statistics show the number of smoking adults has fallen from 35% in 1983 (the first ‘No Smoking’ campaign) to around 20% today. And British men, not ones to wilt, have seen members of their smoking fraternity cut by more than half over the past 40 years.
Tobacco doesn’t just kill, it can do terrible things to the body. It’s hardly surprising with around 4,000 chemicals – including some highly toxic elements being tipped into your mouth every time you light up.
Have you ever wondered what that actually does to your mouth? Think about it: whenever we inhale tobacco smoke, the clouds billow around our teeth, tongue, palate and gums. They take the initial hit and don’t respond too well. The unpalatable truth is: if you smoke, stained teeth could be the very least of your worries. Here’s why:
By inhibiting blood flow, smoking can irritate and damage gum tissue causing it to shrink from the base of the teeth leaving minute pockets where bacteria thrive. Those receding gums can lead to serious periodontal disease.
With the teeth no longer cocooned in healthy gum tissue, the roots become vulnerable to decay. You will know when this happens because your teeth will become more sensitive and your gums more prone to bleeding when you brush.
If your mouth remains unchecked, plaque can build up and harbour increasing colonies of bacteria which may coat the teeth. The plaque could develop into tartar (when you think of tartar, think mortar: the stuff builders use to cement bricks together – it’s quite difficult to remove). If you haven’t seen your dentist or hygienist by now, you really need to book an appointment.
Research indicates that smokers are seven times more likely to develop periodontal disease than a non-smoker. They are also more prone to deterioration of the bones which house and support the teeth- a key stage in tooth loss. Salivary glands can become infected and people who smoke are much more likely to develop mouth sores and oral cancer – that’s when things start to get even more serious.
We recommend you visit your dentist regularly whether you smoke or not. We can give you a full oral health check, deal with any warning signs and tackle any problems you have. Everything will be done confidentially and we will discuss proposed treatments with you.
One final thought: you may never have heard of H. Vernon Watson, a music hall mimic who topped the bill in the 1920s with his catchy stage name Nosmo King. He died in 1952 and is buried in a small churchyard near Peterborough. The prescient message chiselled on his gravestone reads ‘Nosmo King’. OK, the gap between the words may be in the wrong place but it’s still a pretty apt message – especially for those who really care about their health.
One80dental is proud to support No Smoking Day on March 12th, in fact we think every day should be like March 12th.