Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 40, Tuesday March 9, 2004






Dental wise

DR. Mahfujul Haq Khan BDS, DDS, FSDCE (USA), PhD (Japan), Post Doc. (Japan) Specialised: Crown and Bridge work, and Periodontal plastic surgery (USA) Senior Medical Officer, Department of Dentistry, BIRDEM Hospital.

Dear Editor,
I am 39 years old. I never read lifestyle magazine. I have been a drug addict for the last 18 years. My friends, family even myself tried to quit this addiction by several means. Ultimately I failed. My addiction started from simple cigarette smoking (When I was 13 years old). Now I am a chain smoker and an addict. One of my friend told me about Dr.Khan (Dental wise of Lifestyle magazine), and he mentioned several times about smoking effect on our health and how to quite smoking, early sign of oral cancer etc in this magazine. I was really thinking to visit him for his valuable advice, but I feel shy, frustrated about showing my ugly mouth. I don't want to smoke, I don't want to be drug addict anymore. I wan to be a good person in this society, But I failed!

Can Dr. Khan help me? How can I quit smoking? What effects can smoking have on my oral health? What are some signs of oral cancer? I know smoking and other drug causes even oral cancer. Now I don't have any taste or appetite. My mouth is very dry! Is it sign of oral Cancer? Please help me Doctor! I don't want to die. -Mr. N

Dear Mr. N
When a drug addict realises that he/she should quit this addiction and when strongly believe that this will definitely kill a person today or tomorrow, is the person who can quit easily, because he knows all the bad effects of addiction and strong self determination.

Yes. I am ready to help you anytime you want. Don't worry about your ugly dental condition. My job is to repair the dental condition. Don't be frustrated. You will be a perfect person in this society, but you must give me some time and follow my instructions. First I would like to explain to you about the bad effects of smoking and then will give some tips how to quit it! Quitting takes hard work and a lot of effort, but you can quit smoking.

By the way, your loss of appetite and dry mouth are not sign of oral cancer rather addiction! This is the universal truth that, use of any tobacco product can increase your risk of developing oral cancer.

Tobacco products damage your gum tissue by affecting the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth. An example of the effect is receding gums. A receding gum line exposes the tooth roots and increases your risk of developing a sensitivity to hot and cold, or tooth decay in these unprotected areas .Smoking also can contribute to bad breath, stains on your teeth and tongue, and a build-up of tartar on your teeth.

Signs and symptoms that could indicate oral cancer include: any sign of irritation, like tenderness, burning or a sore that will not heal; pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips; development of a lump, or a leathery, wrinkled or bumpy patch inside your mouth; color changes to your oral soft tissues (gray, red or white spots or patches), rather than a healthy pink color; difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue;

If you have tried to quit smoking, you know how hard it can be. It is hard because nicotine is a very addictive drug. For some people, it can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine.

Quitting is hard. Usually people make 2 or 3 tries, or more, before finally being able to quit. Each time you try to quit, you can learn about what helps and what hurts.

Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you will ever do.

You will live longer and live better.

Quitting will lower your chance of having a heart attack, stroke, or cancer.

If you are pregnant, quitting smoking will improve your chances of having a healthy baby.

The people you live with, especially your children, will be healthier.

You will have extra money to spend on things other than cigarettes.

Four Keys for Quitting

Studies have shown that these five steps will help you quit and quit for good. You have the best chances of quitting if you use them together.

1. Get ready.
2. Get support.
3. Learn new skills and behaviors.
4. Be prepared for relapse or difficult situations.

1. Get Ready
Set a quit date.
Change your environment.
Get rid of ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and place of work.
Don't let people smoke in your home.
Review your past attempts to quit. Think about what worked and what did not.
Once you quit, don't smokeNOT EVEN A PUFF!

2. Get Support and Encouragement
Studies have shown that you have a better chance of being successful if you have help. You can get support in many ways:
Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you are going to quit and want their support. Ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out.

Talk to your health care provider (for example, doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, psychologist, or smoking counselor).

Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. The more counseling you have, the better your chances are of quitting. Programs are given at local hospitals and health centers. Call your local health department for information about programs in your area.

3. Learn New Skills and Behaviors
Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or get busy with a task.

When you first try to quit, change your routine. Use a different route to work. Drink tea instead of coffee. Eat breakfast in a different place.

Do something to reduce your stress. Take a hot bath, exercise, or read a book.

Plan something enjoyable to do every day.
Drink a lot of water and other fluids.

4. Be Prepared for Relapse or Difficult Situations
Most relapses occur within the first 3 months after quitting. Don't be discouraged if you start smoking again. Remember, most people try several times before they finally quit. Here are some difficult situations to watch for:

Alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking lowers your chances of success.

Other Smokers. Being around smoking can make you want to smoke.

Weight Gain. Many smokers will gain weight when they quit, usually less than 10 pounds. Eat a healthy diet and stay active. Don't let weight gain distract you from your main goalquitting smoking. Some quit-smoking medications may help delay weight gain.

Bad Mood or Depression. There are a lot of ways to improve your mood other than smoking.

If you are having problems with any of these situations, talk to your doctor or other health care provider.

(Note: Some part of this article is from various websites.)




From an unnatural point of view

The word ‘naturalized’ means ‘adopted or accepted’. For some strange reason (may be a lack of background in English) naturalized sounded to me like the process of becoming natural from an unnatural or abnormal state. I, a naturalized citizen of the United States have been adopted and accepted by this country and it's people, and have taken oath to be an American from my abnormal or unnatural state of being a Bangladeshi.

I was already confused about being myself, and with the added identity of being a naturalized American citizen I became perplexed about my state of being. I was not an American-born-confused-desi (ABCD), neither did I want to be a Fresh-off-Biman-Bangladeshi (FOBB), so what am I, Bangladeshi-born-confused-naturalized-American, BBCNA? That doesn't even rhyme properly. Neither does it have a smart-Alec feel to it. It sounds like the acronyms for some non-profit organization or news channel. So I couldn't be that, I needed a clarified definition for my being. Let it be an insult or mockery; at least I would be categorized.

During my post-adoption period I have searched for my new distinctiveness and tried to look for the American traditions (or lack of) that I can adopt after being "accepted." During the pre-adoption period I had always put down these American traditions and what America stood for. Eeating apple pie and watching football with a beer in one hand just didn't seem to me like an authentic tradition to blend into. After I became la natural to the U .S of A I started comparing the tradition of apple pie, football with a beer to the Bangladeshi fetish of Hilsha fish and day old watered bacteria filled rice (panta bhat).

However comparing food rituals between the two lands was the easy task. To find the other traditions which I could relate to and belong in was not as effortless. I had to face it, I didn't really feel the bubbles in my heart seeing a fat roasted turkey during Thanks giving with my whole family gathered around the table, I mean as a Bengali I always saw my family gathered around the table, either around a greased turkey or around dried fish and lentils. So Thanks giving, the most politically correct holiday of the Americans went by like any other Bangladeshi holiday, eating, sleeping gossiping with family endlessly.

Christmas to me meant an extra day off in the middle of the week and a huge after-Christmas sale, when I bought everything I didn't need just because they were 75% off the original price. Christmas also brought the winter blues, so for me the season to be jolly came later, usually during the first days of spring.

Spring in DC reminds me of Dhaka's winters, the slight chills, the blue sky, the soft sunlight, the few dandelions, and an added bonus, the tax returns. The fat chunk called tax that gets deducted from every pay-check of the year, we get some percentage of it back during the months of spring, when my credit cards swipe more often and I catch up with current fashion trends, often ending up spending more money than I get back in my tax-return.

Then the summer comes, and with that 4th of July, independence day of America, which boils down to barbequing and fireworks, a four day weekend for all living under this sky. Being adopted also brings some step-child-syndromes (refusing the norm and authority) in me. With a few other step-children of America I usually end up doing something not so patriotic like attending the Bongo-sommelon, a North American Bengali Conference designed for 100% Bengali art and entertainment. The Bongo-shommelon committee utilizes the four day weekend of 4th of July for a cause that interests us more, than fireworks and burnt chicken.

So my naturalized years go around in the same cycle, with small changes here and there, no major upheaval, no significant modifications. I Bengalized my naturalized self. I relate to the American traditions only from my perspective and not from my adopters point of view. I am assuming parts of me still remains "unnatural" and also twisted for acting like such a step-child towards a county that gave me a new identity. Come to think of it, how could I have learnt anything new when I was busy holding on to the old and mixing up the past and present to find my unsettled self?

I have not found the slick acronyms I was searching for my naturalized Bengali state. How badly I would love a closure to this ongoing search of mine. I need to accept that some things can never be defined. Till I come out of my denial I will still keep seeking for a definition for my natural state of being through my unnatural point of view.


By Iffat Newaz



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