The Last Puff - Smoking Cessation

Smokers are up to 6 times more likely to show periodontal destruction.

What can dental professionals do to help patients quit smoking?

Helping patients quit tobacco is beneficial for overall health including oral health. Quitting reduces the risk of early disease and death, improves periodontal health and may reduce the risk of tooth loss. While the statistics show a decline in smoking in the UK, we need to do all we can to encourage further progress. Cessation support following the 'Ask, Advise, Act' principles will make sure all current smokers know there is help out there when they are ready to quit. Regular oral hygiene check-ups are also essential, tailoring their home care routine to optimise their dental health wherever possible.

The motivation to quit smoking may simply be the desire for a prettier smile. People may not notice the improvements in their oral health but they will notice a decrease in staining. This could be the tipping point for behaviour change and may elevate confidence too.

Oral health consequences

  • Cigarette smokers are up to 6 times more likely to show periodontal destruction than non-smokers, with poorer responses to treatment and a higher risk of reoccurrence
  • Smoking has been shown to negatively impact the healing and clinical outcomes of implants
  • Even second hand smoke has been shown to increase the risk of periodontal disease - exposure of 1-25 hours per week resulted in a 29% increased risk

Smoking trends


  • In 2014, about 19% of adults in Great Britain smoked cigarettes
  • 23% of people with a personal annual income of £9,999 or lower smoked, compared to only 11% of those with incomes of £40,000 or more
  • 207,000 children are believed to start smoking every year, although numbers are declining - 18% of 15-year-olds admitted to having at least one cigarette in 2014, compared to 22% in 2013 


  • Around 2.8 million adults in the UK smoke e-cigarettes, a 400% increase in the past four years
  • 13% of children aged 11-18-years-old admitted to trying e-cigarettes at least once in 2014, up from 5% in 2013.
  • A recent systematic review found that while a majority of studies did show a positive correlation between e-cigarettes and smoking cessation, the evidence overall is inconclusive due to the low quality of published research


  • A 2009 study found that only 2% of men smoked at least one cigar a month
  • In 2009 less than 1% of men smoked a pipe, all of whom were above 50-years-old
  • In 2012/13, 12% of adults had tried a shisha while only 1% used it regularly
  • A 2014/15 report by the Home Office found that 6.7% of adults aged 16-59 had used cannabis that year, with a higher incidence of usage among 16-24 year-olds (16.3%)