Give dentists key role in smoking cessation

IDA urges dentists to lead the way in reducing the number of Irish smokers

The Irish Dental Association (IDA) has urged the HSE to give dentists a key role in reducing the number of Irish smokers.

At the IDA’s annual conference in Galway, chairman of the association’s General Practitioner Committee Dr Peter Gannon told delegates that, contrary to popular perception, smoking remains the biggest killer of Irish people.

He said: “Smoking is the single biggest cause of cancer and in Ireland one in three adults smoke. That’s one million people. Sweden is the only country in Europe which has reached the World Health Organisation target of reducing the number of adults smoking to one in five.

“It is no coincidence that Swedish dentists played a key role in that country’s tobacco control strategy. Dentists are ideally placed to advise and encourage patients on the dangers of smoking and I would urge the HSE to work with the IDA so we can devise a fully effective tobacco control strategy.

“Dentists carry out cancer screening as part of their routine examinations and that is why it is very important that people avail of the free annual oral examination which most adults are entitled to. If oral cancer is detected early, the five-year survival rate is around 85 per cent. This drops with later detection. Dentists can also demonstrate to patients who smoke the effects it has on their oral health with the use of an intra oral camera and other aids.”