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Tobacco is one of the greatest public health challenges the world faces today, as it impairs oral health and contributes to heart disease, respiratory disease and various forms of cancer. (Photograph: Stock-Asso/Shutterstock)

World No Tobacco Day—FDI highlights role of dental practitioners

By FDI World Dental Federation
May 31, 2019

GENEVA, Switzerland: Annually on 31 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) and global partners celebrate World No Tobacco Day. This year, lung health is the primary focus of the campaign. However, FDI World Dental Federation is highlighting the relationship between tobacco use and oral health.

WHO said that the annual campaign is an opportunity to raise awareness about the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, and to discourage tobacco use in every form.

Tobacco use increases the risk of periodontal disease and oral cancer. It also causes tooth staining, bad breath and premature tooth loss and leads to loss of the ability to taste and smell. Additionally, oral diseases and other non-communicable diseases share modifiable risk factors, including tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, and diets high in sugar.

According to FDI, oral health professionals are uniquely positioned to help patients reduce or quit tobacco use:

  • They are equipped to identify and treat the adverse effects of tobacco on the oropharyngeal region.
  • They often treat children and their caregivers, which provides opportunities to raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco.
  • They often treat pregnant women and can teach them that using tobacco during pregnancy increases the risk of health problems for developing babies.
  • They can contribute to a multidisciplinary approach to help their patients quit; for example, they can be the first to refer their patients to a tobacco cessation programme.
  • They can motivate their patients who are smokers to quit by showing them the harmful effects of tobacco on the mouth.

The global health community agrees that every day should be World No Tobacco Day. By remaining mindful of the harmfulness of tobacco use for oral health and overall health, patients and practitioners can work together to help reduce rates of tobacco use worldwide.

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