During National Non-Smoking Week (January 18–24), one of Canada’s longest running health promotion initiatives, dental hygienists will remind all Canadians of the need to eliminate tobacco use for better oral and overall health.
While most people know that tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Canada, few may be aware that the negative effects of tobacco are often first seen in the mouth. “Bad breath, discoloured teeth, accumulation of plaque and tartar, mouth sores, and periodontal (gum) disease—these are all consequences of tobacco use,” explains Mandy Hayre, president of the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA). “Educating clients about the visible changes in their mouths can be a powerful motivator for tobacco cessation and may ultimately save lives,” says Hayre. CDHA and its members support the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control goals by encouraging a tobacco-free lifestyle and working with clients to develop a good oral care plan that includes regular dental hygiene visits and oral cancer screenings.
Oral cancer, a hazard of tobacco use, is currently the 13th most common cancer in Canada. Dental hygienists have the skills, knowledge, and judgement to detect adverse changes in your mouth and recommend referrals to other health professionals for diagnosis. “Research has shown that early detection of oral cancer leads to better outcomes,” adds Hayre. So visit your dental hygienist today to learn more about the links between tobacco and oral health, and remember: choose your date to quit before it’s chosen for you.
Serving the profession since 1963, CDHA is the collective national voice of more than 26,800 registered dental hygienists working in Canada, directly representing 17,000 individual members including dental hygienists and students. Dental hygiene is the 6th largest registered health profession in Canada with professionals working in a variety of settings, including independent practice, with people of all ages, addressing issues related to oral health. For more information on oral health, visit: www.dentalhygienecanada.ca