Dental test may help smokers quit
A simple test carried out while sitting in the dentistâ€™s chair could help many smokers fight and eventually kick their habit, say UK researchers.
Developed by scientists from the University of Birmingham, SmokeScreen is a ten-minute chair-side saliva test that measures the amount of smoke a person has been exposed to. The test, which is being developed into a programme to help people stop smoking, can monitor the link between saliva nicotine levels and periodontitis â€“ the primary cause of tooth loss in adults.
The research team, lead by Dr Graham Cope, Professor Iain Chapple and Dr Kit Barnfather, studied a sample group of 100 patients who attended a general dental surgery. Half the group were given the SmokeScreen saliva test and provided with feedback on the results, while the other half of the group acted as â€œcontrolsâ€.
The researchers found that the group who were given the test and its results reduced their smoking habits significantly more (21 per cent) than the control group (6 per cent).
The researchers believe the test could be beneficial in helping to screen for oral cancer within general dental practices.
Dr Kit Barnfather said, â€œSmokeScreen is a quick and reliable piece of technology that can quickly and painlessly help assess oral tissue exposure to tobacco smoke products.
â€œWhen patients visit the dentist for their twice yearly check-ups, the dentist is in the strongest position to target smokers with a tailored overview of tobacco-related changes in their saliva and offer practical smoking cessation advice.â€
Around 2,000 people in the UK die each year from oral cancer and the figures are rising â€“ probably as a result of an increase in smoking and drinking, says the British Dental Health Foundation.