As we begin a new year, our staff would love to assist patients with the resolution of quitting smoking and improving oral health. While most people are aware that smoking is harmful to our overall body and health, it also carries several risks to oral health specifically. Our dedicated doctors and staff always strive to offer a judgement-free environment to discuss these risks and offer techniques to quitting in office. However, if you’re not ready to have the conversation with us in person yet, we have also provided a brief description of these risks and suggestions below.
HOW SMOKING AFFECTS OUR ORAL HEALTH
Bad Breath and Discoloration
The nicotine and tar from smoking deposit in the mouth around the gums, tongue, and cheeks, causing bad breath. Nicotine and tar also cause teeth to be stained, typically resulting in yellow or off-white discoloration.
Tobaccos commonly contain sugar, which gets left behind in the mouth and around the teeth while smoking. This can cause cavities, and may eventually lead to tooth loss.
Smoking is one of the leading risk factors for gum disease (also known as periodontal disease). This is because patients that smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque, which lead to infection in the gums. Smoking also decreases or prevents healing time of the infection.
Oral lesions are most commonly caused by tobacco. The mixture of harmful chemicals and intense heat irritates the mucus membrane, causing mouth sores. This can affect the lips, throat, gums, and insides of your cheeks.
WHAT STEPS CAN I TAKE TO QUIT SMOKING?
Build Up Willpower and Start with a Strong Mindset
Developing a motivated mental attitude before actively try to quit is essential for being successful. List out reasons that you want to quit, such as saving money or improving your oral health.
Set a Quitting Date
Setting a specific date, whether it’s a week or even a month from deciding to quit, can help you build up motivation to change habits and develop new substitutions for smoking.
Surround Yourself with a Support Team
Surrounding yourself with people that support you quitting will help keep you stay motivated as you fight off cravings, especially during the first few weeks.
Develop a Reward System
List a few things you would like to do or buy for yourself, and reward yourself at each benchmark of quitting. For example, buy yourself a watch after 15 days of not smoking, and a weekend vacation after 90 days of not smoking.
Know Your Triggers and Find Substitutions
Figuring out what triggers your cravings will help you combat the urge to smoke by finding better or healthier substitutions. For example, if you crave nicotine when you’re feeling stressed, you can try to get extra sleep and talk to loved ones about what’s bothering you instead of smoking.
For more specific and individualized counseling, visit us for an exam with one of our amazing doctors!