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J Dent Educ. 2001 Apr;65(4):306-12.

Tobacco use and oral disease.

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  • Epidemiology and Genetics Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892-7395, USA. winnde@mail.nih.gov


Tobacco use is a risk factor for oral cancer, oral mucosal lesions, periodontal disease and impaired healing after periodontal treatment, gingival recession, and coronal and root caries. Available evidence suggests that the risks of oral diseases increase with greater use of tobacco and that quitting smoking can result in decreased risk. The magnitude of the effect of tobacco on the occurrence of oral diseases is high, with users having many times the risk of non-users. There is a clear benefit to quitting tobacco use. The risks of oral cancer and periodontal disease decline as time from cessation increases, and some oral mucosal lesions may resolve with cessation of smokeless tobacco use. Smoking accounts for half of periodontal disease and three-fourths of oral cancers in the United States. Because tobacco accounts for such a high proportion of these diseases, comprehensive tobacco control policies are required to make progress in reducing the burden of tobacco-related oral diseases. Effective treatments to prevent tobacco use and increase cessation are available and need greater implementation. Dental practices may provide a uniquely effective setting for tobacco prevention and cessation.

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