Quit Smoking For Your Smile – And More

Posted on Nov 09, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Wow – we are nearing the end of another year already. As is common for many Americans, new year’s resolutions are being considered as the holiday season is upon us. For smokers, cutting back or quitting altogether is a common resolution, for good reasons.

When you quit, NOT smoking can cut your risk for heart attack in half. If you quit before age 40, you can also reduce excess mortality that’s attributed to smoking by 90%. Quit before you turn 30 and you’ll reduce this by more than 97%. However, it’s not just YOU who benefits when you quit. Second-hand smoke contains at least 50 known carcinogens and other harmful chemicals.

Smokers shorten their life expectancy by 10–15 years on average. It is responsible for an estimated 30% of all cancer diseases and deaths and 90% of all lung cancers and increases the risk of lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer, cancer of the  kidneys, liver cancer, bladder cancer, stomach cancer and leukemia. Smoking or chewing of tobacco causes 80 – 90% of oral cancers (mouth, lips, throat).  Smokers who are also alcohol drinkers have a risk of oral cancer greater than the combined risk of those who only smoke and those who only drink alcohol. Smoking is also a cause for emphysema and other respiratory diseases, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Pregnant women who smoke create heightened risks of first trimester spontaneous abortions, placenta abruption, preterm births, low birth weight babies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Women are also at risk for early menopause. Men who smoke have a higher risk for sperm abnormalities and impotency.

Tobacco contains chemicals that are known to be harmful to the body. Smokers also have an increased risk of periodontal (gum) disease, bad breath, stained teeth, an increase in dental plaque, and slow healing after extractions, gum therapy or oral surgery.

Smoking dries out the oral tissues, creating a vulnerable environment for the rapid growth of oral bacteria. Once gum disease begins, you can expect persistent bad breath, sore gums, gums that bleed easily when you brush and gums that turn red in color. As the disease progresses, pus pockets will form at the base of teeth. The teeth will become loose as the bacteria destroys bone and tissues that support tooth roots. Eventually, these teeth will require removal.

If you ever needed a reason to quit, look at the loved ones around you who not only breathe in the deadly smoke you exhale. Then, consider the health problems they’ll likely see you endure. Finally, imagine losing your smile and having to wear dentures or partials to replace the teeth you lost due to the effects of smoking.

There are a number of online support sources for those who wish to quit. Begin there, and be committed to keeping this resolution. Your life, literally, depends on it.

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