Dental students from Plymouth University have been working with staff from the Plymouth Stop Smoking Service to help improve communication between the two organisations and support the service’s users with raised oral health awareness and access to dental care.
People who smoke are more likely to have gum disease. Smoking may increase the number of bacteria that are more harmful, and it reduces the blood flow in the gums and supporting tissues of the tooth and makes them more likely to become inflamed. Smokers' gum disease will get worse more quickly than in people who do not smoke, and because of the reduced blood flow smokers may not get the warning symptoms of bleeding gums as much as non-smokers.
As well as gum disease, smoking can lead to tooth staining, tooth loss and - more seriously - mouth cancer.
The students worked on a number of project to help improve the flow of information between Plymouth University Peninsula School of Dentistry and the Plymouth Stop Smoking Service.
The project is part of the dental students’ Inter Professional Engagement scheme which is part of their studies, and which sees them interact with a variety of groups within the wider community. The IPE scheme is run by the Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise.
They also helped to improve the referral process, so that those with dental problems caused by smoking get signposted to the Plymouth Stop Smoking Service and dental care as soon as possible.
The students designed information leaflets for Plymouth Stop Smoking staff and for patients. They also made a video of someone who quit smoking using the service, which will be used to encourage dental patients who smoke to feel more confident about using the stop smoking service.
Beverley Desborough from the Plymouth Stop Smoking Service, said:
“The dental students have been a very hard working creative and professional group, and it’s been exciting to see the project develop from initial brain storming to implementation. We really hope that future students will continue to develop on the work produced.”