The rate of smoking in America has been cut roughly in half, to about 19 percent, from 42 percent in 1965. Yet smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death, killing 443,000 Americans a year, according to the CDC located here in Atlanta, GA. According to the government, an estimated 4,000 youths try their first cigarette every day, and 1,000 a day become regular smokers.
Most likely emboldened by a case the government won last year in a federal court in Kentucky on its overall ability to require larger warning labels with images, Federal health officials released on Tuesday their final selection of nine graphic warning labels to cover the top half of cigarette packages beginning next year, over the opposition of tobacco manufacturers.
The government won and the specific images released Tuesday are likely to stir further legal action. The Kentucky case is before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Commonwealth Brands, the second, third and fourth largest United States cigarette makers, said in a submission to the F.D.A., the “nonfactual and controversial images” were “intended to elicit loathing, disgust and repulsion” about a legal product.
Unfortunately what the tobacco industry fails to understand is this is a critical moment for the United States to move forward in attempting to utilize enhanced efforts in this area according to the F.D.A. commissioner, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg. As much as seven years ago smoking leveled off at about the 20 percent level of adult and youth in this country and we need to step up our action to eliminate smoking all together.
According to the CDC, approximately 75% of all oral cavity and pharyngeal cancers—mouth, tongue, lips, throat, nose, and larynx— can be attributed to the use of tobacco related products. Those who choose to use cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, or snuff, place themselves at a much higher risk of developing oral cancer and other diseases, such as heart disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
The U.S. Surgeon General agrees that oral health is a strong indicator of one’s overall health and well-being (CDC, 2006). Often, diseases give their first warning signs in the form of a patient’s oral problems. Without consistent care and monitoring, several oral health problems can result. Immediate risks include gingivitis, cavities, tooth decay, and other gum diseases which can eventually result in various types oral cancer. There is a “silent epidemic” (U.S. Surgeon General) that can be avoided by regular treatment at home and dental visits at least twice each year. While practicing good oral hygiene at home is vital to your health, there is only so much that personal oral maintenance can do. A normal person can easily overlook conditions that could greatly complicate or even end one’s life. Thus, visiting your dentist for regular checkups is vital to a healthier smile.
“Routine dental exams uncover problems that can be easily treated in the early stages, when damage is minimal” (American Dental Association [ADA], 2008). Now that it is known that gum disease can be a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and certain forms of cancer, regular visits to your dentist can help prevent and treat this disease. By treating conditions early and learning from your dentist how to prevent oral diseases, you can achieve better health and ultimately better quality years of life.
Your dental care is an important aspect of your general health care. So you need to make sure you find a dentist that is right for you and your family. This can be a difficult process. Look for someone who’s competent and you feel comfortable with, one you can have a collaborative relationship with. This is important because there are conditions and problems that were not discussed in this article that the dentist will need to pay attention to during your regular checkups. Hopefully after reading this article, you will have a heightened understanding of the basic need for good oral health. If you have additional questions or concerns feel free to contact us.
Dr. Scheinfeld is an Emory University School of Dentistry trained prosthodontist treating patients in the Sandy Springs, East Cobb, Dunwoody, Roswell, Johns Creek, Alpharetta, Vinings and Buckhead areas of Metro Atlanta. Of the 170,000 dentists in the U.S., less than 2% are prosthodontist.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
290 Carpenter Drive, 200A
Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA 30328
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