Most of us are aware that smoking is bad for your health. The frightening diseases linked to smoking include everything from lung cancer to heart disease and many more. But what you may not realize is that smoking is also bad for your oral health. Smoking tobacco not only stains your teeth and leaves you with bad breath; it also has other negative effects on your teeth and gums.
The American Dental Association reports that in addition to stained teeth and bad breath, smoking also diminishes your sense of taste after a period of time. Smoking also greatly increases your risk of tooth decay and developing gum disease. And as bad for your oral health as smoking tobacco is, chewing tobacco is even worse. Whether you smoke it or chew it, using tobacco increases your likelihood of developing oral cancer. Left untreated, oral cancer can easily spread and become deadly.
Now that we’ve given you the bad news about tobacco, it’s time for some good news: you can quit! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists five steps in the process of quitting tobacco. These include the following:
- Set a date to quit. Rather than just thinking in vague terms, setting a date and marking it on your calendar makes the notion of quitting more concrete. It’s almost like making a contract with yourself.
- Tell your dentist and/or your family doctor, as well as your family and friends, that you plan to quit. Getting the support of other people will make the process much easier.
- Whenever you get the urge to smoke or chew tobacco, distract yourself with some other behavior until the urge passes. Some people find chewing gum to be helpful, but if you choose this distraction, be sure to choose sugarless gum.
- Don’t be afraid to use one of the variety of medications available to help you quit tobacco. There are plenty of choices – both over-the-counter meds as well as prescriptions.
- Mentally prepare yourself for possible relapses. The nicotine contained in smoking and chewing tobacco is highly addictive, so quitting may not be easy. If you falter and relapse briefly, simply vow to quit again right afterward. Accept that setback and obstacles are part of the quitting process.
Kicking the tobacco habit may be challenging, but the rewards are huge! Not only will you enjoy better oral and overall health, you’ll also enjoy the feeling of accomplishment in overcoming addiction. Not being controlled by an addictive substance will give you a feeling of freedom that will make every minute of the quitting process well worth the effort!