The National Conference on Tobacco Or Health (NCTOH) may be over, but it’s still on my mind. I’ve known people who have died too early, are currently struggling with disease – yet are so addicted they can’t seem to quit. I’m sure you do as well. Sometimes it weighs heavily on my mind, and I’ve been encouraged to blog about it more often. I’m published on the subject in the Journal of Dental Educationand try to teach dentists about the addiction and how to talk to their tobacco-dependent patients about quitting. This can be difficult, because they are private practitioners, unlike physicians. But, they don’t want ot perform procedures on current users.
Continued use of tobacco products does more than cause wrinkles, cancer, breathing problems, COPD and heart disease. There are also adverse effects left in your mouth. First, it causes bad breath. You may not realize it, but others can smell stale smoke on your breath. If you smoke for any length of time, your teeth will be stained yellow. Did you know there is such a thing as a ‘hairy tongue’? More serious issues include gum disease (periodontitis), because it increases the build up of plaque and tartar on your teeth. Periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss. It obviously increases your risk of mouth cancers. Imagine your tooth have decayed past the point of a root canal, and it needs to be pulled. If a smoker has an extraction, the healing process is much slower. There is also the possibility you will get a dry socket. Dry sockets are a very painful complication after an extraction. The pain can radiate up to your ear, and can include a bad odor and taste in your mouth.
If you are ready to quit, and have tried to quit before – but picked it up again, talk to your doctor or dentist. They may be able to assist directly or refer you to a local Tobacco Treatment Specialist or the local American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking program. For those who don’t want to go to a group, there is an online Freedom From Smoking program. There are effective ways to quit using tobacco. Some people can quit cold turkey, but others can not. Maybe you tried the patch or gum, but the cravings were too strong. It’s possible you didn’t follow the directions correctly or take them long enough – in some cases a prescription is needed.
Just don’t give up on experiencing better health. It’s possible to quit tobacco, feel better, breathe easier and live longer.