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Stoptober: Have you picked up smoking during the pandemic?

This October, Public Health England celebrates the 10th anniversary of Stoptober, the annual mass participation stop-smoking campaign that has helped an estimated two million smokers to make an attempt at kicking the habit. This year’s campaign was launched on the 20th September, in response to an increase in smokers since the pandemic.

Scott Crosby, Tobacco Control Programme Manager at Public Health England has stated that, “Since the pandemic hit we’ve seen an increase in 18-34 year olds taking up smoking, which is why Stoptober is as vital as ever…It’s been a tough time over the pandemic for smokers. But the numbers trying to quit is up and the success rate it up. Now is the time to do it!”

At DLP, we are in full support of Stoptober, and the following blog post attempts to highlight just a few of the reasons that you should stop smoking, with a focus on dental and oral health.

It is common knowledge now that smoking causes a number of health problems – it harms nearly every organ of the body and reduces both the quality of life and life expectancy, according to ash.org. However, despite the number of smokers in the UK falling from 14.7% of the population in 2018 to 14.1% in 2019, NHS statistics indicate that an astounding 506,100 hospital admissions attributable to smoking were recorded in 2020 – with 74,600 associated deaths. The remaining 6.9 million adult cigarette smokers in the UK should be aware of the dramatic impact the habit can have not just on your dental health, but overall wellbeing.

Whilst smoking is well known to cause lung cancer and other health problems, the impact it has on your oral and dental health is lesser known. So what are the issues that you could face as a smoker to do with your dental care?

For anyone looking to improve the health and appearance of your smile, quitting smoking may be your first point of call. Less serious issues associated with the habit include bad breath – whereby the chemicals in tobacco smoke linger around your mouth after smoking – and a decreased sense of taste after these chemicals interact with your taste buds and alter their shape. Smoking can also stain teeth – nicotine and tar found in cigarettes are responsible for causing teeth to go yellow, or even eventually brown after consistent smoking.

More serious oral health issues that can be caused by or made worse by smoking including gum disease and mouth cancer. According to the Oral Health Foundation, gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults, and smokers are much more likely to be affected – the lack of oxygen in smoker’s bloodstream prevents infected gums from healing. This could lead to the need for extensive restorative dental treatment that can be painful and expensive.  Similarly, smoking is one of the leading causes of mouth cancer in the UK. Research suggests that 60 out of 100 (more than 60%) mouth and oropharyngeal (throat and tonsils) cancers in the UK are caused by smoking.

If you are a smoker who is looking for help during Stoptober or in your own quitting attempt, visit the NHS Stoptober website for more resources and information.