In our health-conscious society, many people are becoming increasingly aware of the negative effects of smoking. As a result, the percentage of Canadaa��s population who are smokers has drastically declined in the last 50 years, from about 50% in the mid 1960s to 14.6% in 2015. But although many patients know that smoking increases rates of stroke, lung cancer, and many other bodily ailments, they might still be unaware that smoking can have a big impact on their oral health as well. Bad breath, tooth staining, and gum disease are all more prevalent in smokers than in non-smokers, for example.
Once you begin your career as a dental hygienist, you will be equipped with the skills and knowledge to act as a primary oral health-care provider. As such, youa��ll be in an ideal position to help advise your patients on how smoking can affect their oral health, and why quitting is often recommended.
Continue reading for three reasons why dental hygienists promote tobacco-free living.
1. Pros with Dental Hygienist Training Know Smoking Increases the Risk of Oral Cancer
As you begin your Dental hygienist training youa��ll learn to take x-rays and examine a patienta��s mouth, tongue, and neck for any abnormalities. One of the reasons why these duties are important is that they can help dental hygienists spot any troubling abnormalities like oral cancer. In fact, Health Canada encourages Canadians to regularly see a dental health professional like a dental hygienist to help make sure that any signs of oral cancer are caught early.
But even with regular check-ups, many dental hygienists still recommend that ita��s best for patients to quit smoking altogether. a�?Smoking or using tobacco products increases the risk [of developing oral cancer],a�? warns Health Canada, a�?especially if combined with high alcohol consumption. This includes smokeless tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, chewing betel quid, paan, areca nut and cigarettes.a�?
Thata��s why the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association works hard to promote tobacco-free living, and why you might want to encourage patients to quit smoking throughout your career.
2. Grads of Dental Hygienist School Know that Smoking Stains Teeth
Usually the first detectable sign of excessive smoking is a gradual yellowing of the teeth. Over time, the nicotine and tar in cigarette smoke will begin to turn your patientsa�� pearly whites yellow. This staining usually begins to occur on the backside of teeth, where the smoke first comes into contact with teeth.
To help patients get whiter teeth, students in dental hygienist school learn to use a whitening agent containing bleach or hydrogen peroxide to remove stains from the surface of teeth. But while these treatments can help patients get whiter teeth in the short term, in the long term dental hygienists often recommend that patients quit smoking.
3. Students at Dental Hygienist School Know that Smoking can Cause Bad Breath
Cigarette smokers are actively inhaling more than 4,000 chemicals with each cigarette consumed. All these chemicals are poised to create bad breath as a lot of them accumulate in and around the mouth. Smoking also dries out the mouth, which can create bad breath and even lead to a patienta��s sinuses becoming irritated.
After graduating from a dental hygiene diploma program, you will have the skills to be able to identify when bad breath is telling patients that the time to quit is now! In the meantime, many dental hygienists advise patients to use a mouth rinse and begin brushing their tongue as well as their teeth.
Think a rewarding career in dental hygiene is right for you?
Contact an advisor at the Canadian Academy of Dental Hygiene today to find out how you can enroll in our dental hygiene diploma program.A�