Wondering how to quit smoking? We’re here to help. It’s estimated that about 50 million Americans have an addiction to nicotine. The type of products vary from e-cigarettes to combustible cigarettes, chew, and snuff. Thankfully, there are many tools available to quit smoking. You should be able to find plenty of motivation, too. Besides the detriment to your wallet, consuming nicotine takes a toll on your oral and your overall health. Learn more about the consequences of consuming nicotine. Plus, we’ll provide smoking cessation tips to make your experience successful.
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.
Nicotine, an active ingredient in tobacco, is a significant contributor to gum, or periodontal, disease. That’s because it ruins our mouth’s ability to be healthy.
Available literature suggests that nicotine affects:
- Blood flow and circulation in the gums.
- Cytokine production, slowing the regulation of swelling and immune defense.
- Neutrophils, which kill invading microorganisms.
- The rate of tissue healing.
- Other immune responses and cell functions.
Consuming nicotine actually 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.
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Counseling and Contact Information for Smoking Cessation
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.
Aside from your doctor, other sources for referrals include your local hospital, health department, or American Cancer Society chapter (800-ACS-2345 or 800-227-2345).
Another resource is the National Network of Tobacco Cessation Quit Lines (800-QUIT-NOW or 800-784-8669). A recent study of 837 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.
You Can Quit Smoking
Giving up smoking isn’t easy, but it can be done. In fact, current smokers make up only 21 percent of the adult population. 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 less instances of coughing and shortness of breath, you will also have better breath and dry mouth will improve.
In the first 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 don’t forget these smoking cessation tips. Soon, you will be basking in the satisfaction of knowing that you’re keeping your mouth — and your entire body — healthy.
If your oral health has been impacted by nicotine, click here to find a dentist near you who can help you get your oral health back on track.