No Smoking Day: Dental teams must step up to help mums to be to quit smoking

Image representing No Smoking Day: Dental teams must step up to help mums to be to quit smoking

No Smoking Day 9th March 2016

Every dental team should include smoking cessation as part of its treatment service if the future health of the nation is to be improved.

And, any dental hygiene programme should embrace the ‘making every contact count’ healthcare principle by conducting oral health checks on each and every patient and engaging those who do smoke in a discussion about the associated serious health risks.

That’s according to Fiona Sandom, president of the British Association of Dental Therapists (BADT), who was speaking in the run-up to No Smoking Day (9 March).

She explained: ‘No Smoking Day – like any other national health awareness campaign – offers health professionals the perfect opportunity to draw attention to lifestyle habits and their health risks. It also underpins the importance of an inter-disciplinary approach to healthcare and reminds dental professionals that we are at the very forefront of empowering patients to make positive change.’

More than a third of smokers in the UK (37%) have noticed a negative difference in their appearance since they took up smoking, with over a third (36%) saying their teeth had become discoloured, and seven in ten (71%) saying they were concerned about the effect smoking was having on their oral health.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is encouraging dentists and their teams to use this year’s No Smoking Day as an opportunity to raise awareness of the detrimental effects of tobacco, and boost participation among patients by promoting quit aids in their practice and local support services available in their area.

Fiona Sandom also believes dental professionals need to specifically target young pregnant mums who smoke – especially those living in deprived areas of the UK – with a far more proactive approach in getting them to quit.

Recent figures reveal that 2.1% of women in Westminster were still smoking by the time their baby was born, compared with 27.2% in Blackpool.

Fiona explained: ‘Despite a recent reduction in the number of mums-to-be smoking, there’s still much to be done. The health of a baby in the womb is key when it comes to its lifelong heath, with smoking a big risk to the health of the unborn child. More than 70,000 babies every year are born in the UK to mothers who smoke through their pregnancy.

‘The figures for teenage mums-to-be are considerably higher, with rates much higher in poorer communities. We therefore have a key role to play in helping to further reduce these rates, equipped as we are with the skills to help. An automatic referral for pregnant smokers to specialist services (unless they opt out) would encourage more women to seek help in quitting and would make a world of difference to current statistics.’

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director of the BHF, said: ‘Smoking is the single worst thing you can do for your health. Smoking-related illnesses lead to thousands of deaths every year and dental therapists see the devastating effect that smoking has on a patient’s oral health every day.

‘Dental teams can talk to people about their smoking history, provide them with information about the options available to help them give up, and put them in touch with specialist cessation programmes. They can also guide those who want to quit to the right aids and resources and give sensitive advice about the benefits of quitting. Every contact with a patient counts and can be crucial in encouraging a smoker to quit for good.’

Posted by Gemma

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