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Dentists Could Hold the Answer to Stopping Smoking in the UK!

in Health and Medical by

Up to 200,000 people in Britain could be helped to quit smoking within 12 months by their dentists! This follows recent studies in the dental community targeting smokers that desperately want to kick the habit.

Here’s how your dentist could hold the answer to giving up the cigarettes for good…..

Up to 200,000 people in Britain could be helped to quit smoking within 12 months by their dentists; says the respected British Dental Journal who conducted a recent study.

This statement follows previous research at University College London into links between drinking – smoking and mouth cancer. The research also concluded that the risk of mouth cancer can be minimised by early detection of malignant oral lesions, the sores that lead to mouth cancer, by dentists as part of a regular check-up.

This is of particular significance for men. For the study found that lesions were predominant in men, heavy smokers of both genders, and men who drink heavily. Men are twice as likely as women to suffer from oral lesions. Heavy smokers were three-and-a-half times likely to be affected. Heavy-drinking women were no more likely to suffer from lesions than non-drinkers.

Early detection is the stumbling block in the prevention of mouth cancer. Attempts at a screening process drew little patient response and were not cost effective, so the report suggested that dentists could check for the condition during patients’ routine visits.

Another, this time chilling, statistic is that nearly 128,000 people worldwide died from mouth cancer in 2000 and in recent years the number of cases in the UK has been steadily rising. It is estimated that there are currently 13,000 people in the UK living with mouth cancer.

Public understanding of the condition is poor, as the universities of Liverpool and Manchester found out when they began asking questions. Patient knowledge, however, increased dramatically when presented with information in leaflet form. The leaflet also succeeded in dispelling myths about the subject.

But back to that original statistic. Can your dentist help you to quit the weed? Yes, says the BDJ, but (as always) there is a slight catch. Resources – and that means cash – and support would have to be made available to undertake a smoking cessation campaign.

The study reported positive attitudes amongst dentists to the idea. One nugget of hope is the revelation that three minutes of advice could help an additional two percent of smokers to stop each year. If advice were to last ten minutes and be combined with nicotine replacement therapy, then up to six percent might give up.

The problems for many dentists include time and cost pressures; lack of knowledge or confidence; concerns about dentist-patient relationships and doubts about the effectiveness of their involvement.

Hence, says the study, carried out by the Royal Free and University College London Medical School and the Guy’s, Kings and St. Thomas’ Schools of Medicine, the need for additional professional support and training – hence money!

Looking at a better future for smokers that are desperate to kick the habit as well as early detection of cancer in the mouth is a positive step for the dental industry in whole in the UK.

This article is free to republish provided the authors resource box below remains intact.

Stevenson Gilbert, MPH, MD. Research focused on the public health, particularly focuses on understanding the transmission dynamics and multidisciplinary epidemiology, ecology and translational research-based approaches to identify prevention and control strategies that can be implemented in slum communities.

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