For those who once smoked cigarettes and can now proudly say they’re ‘Quitters,’ they’ll also tell you the stop-smoking process was no easy row to hoe! Some even tell us that what kept them from picking up another cigarette was remembering how difficult it was to quit, and not wanting to repeat the process!
As a Dentist, I see firsthand the damage from smoking by drying oral tissues, discoloring teeth, and greatly extending the healing time of most treatments involving oral tissues. It is not uncommon to hear of cases that fail when heavy smokers cannot decrease their intake long enough to allow gum tissues to heal.
Even smokers agree that smoking is a terrible habit that won’t let go. Yet, it’s the smoker who must release the habit, not the other way around. The proverbial New Year’s Resolution is often the starting point for many who claim, “This is the year I’m kicking the habit!” with every intention of never picking up another cigarette. Yet, by the time you read this, you may be weakening or have even given in to one or two.
Below are some powerful statistics to remind you of why you should quit along with tips to keep you on track.
• Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals; hundreds are toxic and about 70 of these can cause cancer. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and is a leading cause of cancer, including cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.
• Smoking also causes heart disease, stroke, aortic aneurysm, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, hip fractures, and cataracts. Smokers are at higher risk of developing pneumonia and other airway infections.
• Men who smoke are at greater risk of erectile dysfunction. A pregnant smoker has a higher risk of having her baby born too early and with an abnormally low birth weight.
When it comes to your heart, many factors contribute to heart disease. Smoking, being overweight, having high cholesterol or high blood pressure, and being inactive all contribute to cardio problems. However, it’s known that gum disease bacteria can enter the bloodstream through tears in gum tissue. These bacteria cause inflammation to blood vessel walls, which can lead to a heart attack. With every 1 in 4 Americans having some form of heart disease, coupled with the fact that 1 in 3 adults between 30 and 54 have some form of periodontal disease, an enormous health care challenge exists. It has also been shown that gum disease contributes to infective endocarditis. This is when the interior lining of the heart and heart valves become inflamed due to bacterial build-up. For those who have been diagnosed with heart disease or high blood pressure, the medications they take for these conditions can even create greater potential for gum disease. Some commonly prescribed medications for these conditions can cause dry mouth. If you smoke, that’s a double-whammy on oral tissues!
The benefits of quitting are almost immediate. Your circulation improves, your blood pressure starts to return to normal, your sense of smell and taste return and breathing becomes easier. In the long term, your risk of getting cancer decreases with each year you stay smoke-free.
Fortunately, people who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk for disease and premature death. Smoking cessation is associated with the following health benefits:
•Quitting smoking lowers the risk for lung and other types of cancer.
•Quitting smoking reduces the risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and respiratory problems like coughing and shortness of breath.
•Quitting smoking reduces the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
•For women, quitting smoking reduces the risk for infertility. Women who stop smoking during pregnancy reduce their risk of having a low birth weight baby.
The reasons to quit are endless, such as:
• Nonsmokers live about 10 years longer than smokers.
• Quitting at age 60, 50, 40 or 30 adds, respectively, 3, 6, 9 or 10 years to life expectancy.
• Life expectancy of ex-smokers is about the same as it is for those who never smoked if they quit between the ages of 35 – 44.
If you have tried to quit in the past, you may have become frustrated by short-term effects such as weight gain, irritability and anxiety. Today, there are many ways to quit smoking. Because tobacco dependence is a chronic condition, it may require repeated interventions. However, smokers can and do quit smoking through effective treatments and helpful resources. In fact, there are now more former smokers than current smokers.
Here are extra benefits you’ll enjoy as a result of giving up smoking:
– Saving a bundle on cigarettes.
– You’ll save time checking out without a Cashier hunting for your cigarettes.
– You won’t feel awkward smoking in a roped off area for smokers.
– No more glares or lectures from others about the hazards of smoking.
– Your clothes and hair will smell fresh.
– Your mouth will taste fresh and ‘kissable’ again!
– Your car and furniture will smell nice again.
– You won’t become winded easily.
– Your teeth and fingers won’t have a ‘stained’ appearance.
– You’ll be able to call your health insurance company to say you’re no longer a smoker, to earn lower rates!
– You won’t have to stand outside when it’s cold or rainy because you need a cigarette.
– You won’t feel guilty around children or others about your second-hand smoke.
– Your employer will appreciate knowing you no longer need smoking breaks.
Just think, once you’ve quit FOR GOOD, your smile will even thank you by being healthier and looking brighter!