image006Dr Jess was interviewed by Primary Health Tasmania about the correlation between smoking and oral health. Dr Jess explained that smoking is a risk factor for periodontal disease, inflammation of the gums, which affects the supporting bone and tissues around teeth. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss, as teeth eventually become loosened, difficult to chew on and often require extraction. Other common oral side effects of smoking include halitosis, increased plaque build-up, tooth discolouration and staining. Smoking is also a major risk factor in oral cancer, commonly occurring on the floor of the mouth, tongue and lips. When tobacco and alcohol are combined, the risk of oral cancer increases by 15 times more than non-users of tobacco and alcohol consumers. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports the worldwide death toll from tobacco use is 4 million annually. Is it time for you to quit smoking? Speak to your local dentist about how to go about this!