Tips to quit smoking + its impact on oral health

It’s estimated that about 50 million Americans have an addiction to nicotine. The type of products vary from e-cigarettes, traditional combustible cigarettes, chew, and snuff. And they’re all bad for your oral and overall health.

Thankfully, there are many tools available to quit smoking. You should be able to find plenty of motivation, too. Consuming nicotine takes a toll on your oral and your overall health, not to mention the hit on your wallet.

How smoking impacts you

When we smoke, toxins are invited into our bloodstream and every organ in our bodies. At the same time, the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke depletes the levels of oxygen in our blood. The cells throughout our bodies get less of the oxygen that they need to work properly.

When we inhale from an e-cigarette or vaporizer, the battery heats up nicotine, which is the active ingredient in tobacco. Chemicals like formaldehyde and heavy metals are also reportedly inhaled. This creates a mix of particles that invade our lungs and cause inflammation. Inflammation in the lungs is linked to cardiovascular disease, among other conditions. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men who smoke lose an average of 13.2 years from their life. Women who smoke lose an average of 14.5 years. About half of all lifetime smokers wind up dying early of smoking-related causes.

How nicotine and tobacco impact your mouth

In addition to damaging our overall health, nicotine can also cause gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss, and mouth and other cancers. That’s because it ruins our mouth’s ability to be healthy. 

Research suggests that nicotine affects:

Consuming nicotine stops your mouth from being able to fight for its health. Once you’re ready to quit smoking, you have many options to turn to. Some of the most proven techniques include nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT), medication, and counseling. 

Nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT)

NRT provides nicotine without the other harmful components of tobacco smoke. Because nicotine is the addictive substance in tobacco, NRT allows you to focus on quitting the habit. Once you’ve had a chance to change your behavior, you can then wean your body off the nicotine.

Five types of NRT products have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Nicotine gums, patches, and lozenges can be bought over the counter. Nicotine sprays and inhalers are available by prescription. Two non-nicotine medications have also been shown to help smokers quit. Talk to your primary care physician about which are right for you. If you’re pregnant or have heart or circulatory disease, be sure to talk with your doctor before using one of these products.

Counseling and contact information to help you quit

Counseling and support programs can help connect you with a motivating support system. These programs can provide guidance to help you find the best quit method for you. A study of more than 800 daily smokers found that telephone counseling increased the use of other quit-smoking aids and improved the chance of success compared to routine health care alone.

A great resource to help you quit – including an information guide, NRT starter kit, and personal coaching is the South Dakota QuitLine (1-866-SD-QUITS) or 1-866-737-8487). And it’s all FREE!

You can quit smoking

Giving up smoking isn’t easy, but it can be done. To be successful, it’s best to put a plan in place and use the tools available to quit smoking. Take the process step-by-step.

In as little as one hour after your last cigarette, for example, your blood pressure and heart rate return to a normal, healthy rate. 

The next day, 12 hours after quitting, your body purifies itself of carbon monoxide. After one full day, 24 hours, your risk of heart attack decreases. In the next week, your sense of smell and taste will return. 

For the next few months, the body – and mouth – continue to heal and repair. In addition to fewer instances of coughing and shortness of breath, you will also have better breath and dry mouth will improve.

One year after quitting smoking, a person's risk for coronary heart disease decreases by half. And after one year, it continues to drop.

Take the journey to quit smoking one step at a time and you’ll soon be keeping your mouth — and your entire body — healthier for life!