Dentists have a duty to teach their patients how smoking can negatively affect their oral health. One of our Dental Product Shopper evaluators, Abraham Jaskiel, DMD from Miami, FL, discusses how his office discourages smoking and endorses the early detection of oral cancer.
One of my patients, a smoker, had just spent a significant amount of time and money on treatment directly related to dry mouth, decay stains and periodontal gum disease. I explained to him that most of the work he had done was probably related to smoking - dry mouth causing decay and periodontal disease from the cells and blood vessels in his mouth not being able to rejuvenate and heal well. I told him that he will most likely get recurrent decay under crowns and fillings because the saliva isn’t washing the bacteria away, and the enzymes in the saliva are not enough to remineralize the enamel in time. This patient responded, “This was the motivation I needed to finally quit.”
Another patient said he recently quit due to the exorbitant amount of money and time he spent on smoking. He said, "I've wasted countless hours in the freezing cold by myself smoking and realized, for what? It’s killing me, my teeth, my breath, and my time. It’s time to quit."
Last week we screened a patient for oral cancer with a ViziLite and found a positive white area on the patient’s uvula. The patient, who is a smoker, became very nervous and said, "I gotta quit". We sent him to an oral surgeon, who determined that it’s probably nothing, but the patient will follow up in a month and biopsy then, if necessary. Due to this experience, this patient now doesn't smoke, even socially. He is grateful and is looking forward to finishing the periodontal treatment that we started. He is now infection free on one side of his mouth after a scaling, root planing and treatment with ARESTIN. He never knew these screenings exist, which is true with many other patients as well.
We offer oral cancer screenings for a reasonable fee in our office, but, surprisingly, many smokers refuse the screenings. Their urge to smoke is so strong that they reject anything that may make them think about quitting. The best we can do as practitioners is educate our patients of the dangers of smoking and promote the early detection of oral cancer.
Dr. Abraham Jaskiel practices general dentistry in Miami, FL at Brickell Avenue Cosmetic & Holistic Dentistry.