Dr. Rashmi Bhatnagar

D.M.D., Bella Vista Dental

To mark the 50th year anniversary, the Surgeon General released an update on Dr. Luther Terry’s 1964 report on “Smoking and Health.” The new report, “Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress,” highlights the progression U.S. has made reducing tobacco use and outlines the current disease and death rates related to smoking. Even though cigarette smoking has declined from 42 percent in 1965 to 18 percent in 2012, 20 million people have died prematurely by tobacco related disease since 1964.

The Surgeon General report also investigates the various nicotine delivery systems that are increasingly replacing the conventional cigarette. Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “The percentage of U.S. middle and high school students who use electronic, or e-cigarettes, more than doubled between 2011 and 2012.”

He continues to state, “The findings in this report show that the decline in the prevalence of smoking has slowed in recent years and that burden of smoking-attributable mortality is expected to remain at high and unacceptable levels for decades to come unless urgent action is taken.”

The American Dental Association (ADA) applauded the report due to its examination of tobacco affects on dental caries and dental implants. The recent report published the following verbatim conclusions within the “Dental Disease” section:

1. The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between active cigarette smoking and dental caries.

2. The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between exposure to tobacco smoke and dental caries in children.

3. The evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between cigarette smoking and failure of dental implants.

4. The existing evidence suggests that smoking may compromise the prognosis of osseointegrated dental implants. Thus, an intervention to discontinue tobacco use should be part of the treatment plan for persons who are considering a dental implant.

These conclusions were drawn from a review of epidemiologic studies from the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database. The full report reviews the relationship of tobacco use with all systems of the body in great detail. It also explains the effect of tobacco use of pregnant women on fetus development and later child development. Dental related oralfacial clefts are shown to be sufficiently caused by maternal smoking in early pregnancy.

As acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. states in the report’s preface, “Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of premature disease and death in the United States…It is my sincere hope that 50 years from now we won’t need another Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health, because tobacco-related disease and death will be a thing of the past.”

To review the entire copy of “Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 Years of Progress” report, visit www.surgeongeneral.gov.

• Dr. Rashmi (Rush) Bhatnagar, DMD, MPH, can be contacted at (480) 598-5900 or visit www.BellaVistaDentalCare.com.

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