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Smoking and Oral Health

Armen Hareyan's picture

If the mouth is the portal to the body, smokers have little to smile about.

Tobacco use, whether smoked or smokeless, dramatically increases the risk of oral cancer. In fact, 75% of all oral cancers occur in people who use tobacco, alcohol or a combination of both.

Leslie Lambert, Registered Dental Hygienist with the County of Lambton Children's Services Department, says "If you smoke, and drink, the odds are stacked against you. Together, these are responsible for 3 of every 4 cases of oral cancers. When the two factors are applied, or involve a heavy, long-time smoker, the risk is multiplied."

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About 90% of oral cancers occur in people over 45 years of age.

'Early detection is key," she adds. "Visit your dentist for oral cancer screenings. You should also know your mouth, and be aware of signs and symptoms like swelling, red or white patches or sores that do not heal within two weeks."

Oral cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer in the world. Worldwide, smoking is the single most preventable public health problem causing death and disability. More than 3,000 cases of oral cancer are reported annually.

Lambert encourages smokers during National Non-Smoking Week