Most of us are probably aware they smoking is incredibly bad for our health, causing an untold amount of misery due to a vast variety of medical problems. It is estimated that every year in the UK around 96,000 people die from diseases caused by smoking and about half of all regular cigarette smokers will eventually be killed by their addiction.
However, many of us still do not fully realise the extreme damage that smoking causes to the place it enters our bodies; our mouths. As part of Stoptober the UK's leading oral health charity, the Oral Health Foundation, have taken a look at seven problems that you may not know smoking causes for the health of your mouth, and how you can avoid it by quitting.
1. Yellow teeth
The nicotine and tar in tobacco can make your teeth yellow in a very short time. Heavy smokers often complain that their teeth are almost brown after prolonged years of smoking. But this is just the very start of your worries.
2. Gum disease and tooth loss
Smoking affects how your teeth connect to your gums and bone in your jaw, meaning smokers are more likely to suffer from gum disease. It severely affects the tissue in the gums which make them far more vulnerable to infection. It can also lead to bone loss in the jaw and disintegrates the bone that holds your teeth in place, when weakened this leads to a hugely increased chance of tooth loss.
3. Bacterial growth
Smoking results in an increased build-up of bacteria, or plaque, on the teeth which can lead to decay and cavities. Plaque caused by smoking can also affect tissues supporting the roots of the teeth beneath the gum and weakens the bone supporting the tooth.
4. Scaly teeth
When plaque stays on the teeth for a long time due to not cleaning your teeth properly it hardens into a scaly like substance called tartar. Smokers are more likely to suffer from tartar which often leads to receding gums and gum disease.
5. Mouth cancer
There are thousands of chemicals contained in every single cigarette, we all know smoking causes cancer but have you ever thought about how when smoking they all enter the body through the mouth. Smoking transforms saliva into a deadly cocktail that damages cells in the mouth and can turn them cancerous. Smoking causes roughly two in every three mouth cancer cases.
6. Smelly breath
‘Smokers breath' is often one of the first problems you develop when smoking. Cigarettes leave smoke particles lingering in the mouth, throat and lungs long after you have finished your cigarette.
7. Spotty mouth
Smoking often causes a white or grey patch to develop on the tongue, cheek, or the floor of the mouth, known as leukoplakia. This happens due to the constant irritation of the soft tissues inside the mouth due to smoking.
The best way to but a stop to any of these problems is to kick the habit and try to quit smoking today. If you are a smoker you should also follow the three basic rule of good oral health.
- Brush your teeth last thing at night and at one other time of the day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Cut down on sugary foods and drinks.
- Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
Tasmainian Devil Milk Fights Super Bugs
The marsupial's milk contains important peptides that appear to be able to kill hard-to-treat infections, including MRSA, say the Sydney University team.
Experts believe devils evolved this cocktail to help their young grow stronger.
The scientists are looking to make new treatments that mimic the peptides.
They have scanned the devil's genetic code to find and recreate the infection-fighting compounds, called cathelicidins.
PhD student Emma Peel, who worked on the research which is published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, said they had found six important peptides.
These appear to be similar to peptides in the milk of other marsupials, which means these animals are worth studying too.
"Tammar wallabies have eight of these peptides and opossums have 12," she said, adding that studies into koala's milk had now started.
Experts believe marsupials are good to study because their babies have to thrive in a relatively dirty environment.
Tasmanian devil mothers give birth after only a few weeks of pregnancy. The tiny offspring then spend the next four months maturing in their mother's pouch.
The Sydney team recreated the six devil peptides that they found and tested them on 25 types of bacteria and six types of fungi.
One of the synthetic peptides - Saha-CATH5 - appeared to be particularly effective at killing the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA.
It also appeared to kill another resistant bug, called Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus, as well as fungi, called Candida, which are commonly involved in skin infections.
Experts agree that we urgently need new drugs to fight treatment-resistant infections.
A recent review warned that by 2050, superbugs could kill one person every three seconds across the world unless urgent action was taken.
Dr Richard Stabler, Associate Professor in Molecular Bacteriology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "We need to do this hunting in unusual places for new antibiotics. People are beginning to explore and find new molecules."
Dobson: 'Money for reducing waiting lists was spent elsewhere'
An Ulster Unionist MLA has said she has figures showing almost £19m ofextra health funding earmarked for tackling waiting lists has been spent elsewhere.
The money was part of a £48m funding boost announced in November 2015.
Jo-Anne Dobson told the Assembly much of the money was used to "plug the gap on other pressures in the health service."
She said: "My party warned ... that the trusts were not given enough time to use this money on waiting lists.
"Time and time again cancer waiting times have been raised in this house by successive Ministers."
She added: "When will these condemnations of the service they are leading be turned into actions?"
Mrs Dobson made her remarks during an assembly debate on cancer services.
However Sinn Féin MLA, Catherine Seeley, said the crisis in cancer waiting times was not unprecedented.
She said: "The trends of increased and sustained demand are due to an aging population and increased referrals which go back for years.
"I would argue this is largely due to increased awareness resulting in early detection and enhanced outcomes," she added.
Ms Seeley accused the opposition of seeming to be keen "to cry from the sidelines".
The former DUP health minister Edwin Poots said he wished the current minister, Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill, well in her role, as cancer was too serious an issue for political bickering.
Mr Poots told the assembly that Northern Ireland was achieving the best breast cancer care results in the United Kingdom though it is important that "we still focus on delivering better results."