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Quitting tobacco in time of coronavirus

The dental office is an ally in quitting tobacco in times of coronavirus.

Quitting tobacco in time of coronavirus

Growing evidence linking smoking to a worsening COVID-19 and identifying it as a possible risk factor for SARS-Cov-2 infection further reinforces measures to promote smoking cessation. And in this fight against tobacco, every effort and every help can be transcendental, highlighting the importance that the dental office can have in facilitating the abandonment of this harmful habit among patients who go to the dentist.

If smoking was bad for your health before the coronavirus pandemic, it is now an even more significant threat; quitting smoking is not going to be an easy task, and realistically, it is hardly achievable on a first attempt. Therefore, on many occasions, it is necessary to consider seeking external help.

Support from the dental office in tobacco cessation.

If previous attempts have not worked or if the smoker feels unable to do so alone, it should be noted that the dental office is also an ideal setting in which cessation therapies can be easily applied based on advice, support, and follow-up. Among our tasks or skills are educating our patients continuously in health and motivating hygiene care (oral) and food.

In addition to making a correct diagnosis and carrying out the conventional treatments necessary in each case, it is also a priority to control all those modifiable risk factors related to the appearance of oral problems that worsen patients' quality of life. Among them, smoking is one of the most frequent and severe due to its consequences.

Now, more than ever is the perfect time to stop smoking, adopt a healthier lifestyle, learn to eat better, exercise more, and manage stress. The beneficial effects of smoking cessation positively impact the consumer and his or her closest relatives. They are multiple at a systemic level (i.e., throughout the body) and, of course, at an oral story.

Among the pernicious effects at the oral cavity level, in addition to its relationship with the appearance of oral cancer, the tobacco habit favors the development and progression of the periodontitis, limits the response to periodontal treatment, and has severe consequences for implant therapy. This can lead, among other products, to tooth loss, significant aesthetic sequelae, worse quality of life, and general health worsening due to periodontitis's systemic implications.

10 reasons

For all these reasons, it is considered that numerous arguments support and endorse the role that the dental office can play in the elimination of tobacco and, in general, in the promotion of healthy living habits. They are summarised in ten fundamental aspects:

  1. Smoking is prevalent in 28% of the population, making it one of the leading public health problems and the main cause of illness and avoidable death.
  2. At the present time, and in the post-confinement era that is accompanied by an increase in the number of smokers as revealed by recent studies, the control and prevention of any risk factor that may increase the risk of contagion and/or aggravation of the person who ends up developing the COVID-19 are more strongly advised.
  3. The dental office is where thousands of people come daily across the country, many of whom consider themselves "healthy" but have risk factors that threaten their oral and general health. It is, therefore, an ideal reference point for establishing preventive measures, health promotion, and early diagnosis of certain disorders.
  4. Tobacco negatively influences oral health, being a risk factor for the appearance of oral cancer, different lesions of the mucous membranes, and periodontal and peri-implant diseases.
  5. Smoking also helps to respond better to periodontal and implant treatments and avoids complications.
  6. The dental team professionals are used to and sufficiently trained to educate in hygiene and health habits.
  7. Usually, there is a professional relationship with a degree of complicity and closeness between the professionals who work in dental consultation and the patient.
  8. There is growing clinical evidence linking periodontal diseases (such as periodontitis) with other disorders as frequent and essential as diabetes, myocardial infarction, premature birth, or Alzheimer's disease, highlighting the impact of good oral health on the development or aggravation of systemic inflammatory diseases.
  9. Dental professionals are accelerating their training and awareness of their essential role in oral health promotion and general health.
  10. The objectives are to train all health professionals in health promotion and prevention of periodontal disease.

Tobacco-Free Day

In any person, whether healthy or sick, smoking is most likely the most significant risk to your health. It is known that maintaining this habit over time increases by more than 50% the probability of developing a serious illness and dying prematurely, considerably increasing the risk of the appearance of different types of cancer, cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory diseases, pulmonary diseases, hypertension... In addition, tobacco consumption kills almost 6 million people yearly, which is expected to rise to more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030 if measures to counteract it are not intensified.

On 31 May each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its global partners celebrate World No Tobacco Day to inform and raise awareness of tobacco use's harmful and deadly effects and passive exposure to tobacco smoke. The aim is to discourage the use of tobacco in all its forms. This year's campaign revolves around protecting young people from manipulating the industry and preventing them from consuming tobacco and nicotine.