"Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times." – Mark Twain
Nicotine is a difficult addiction to quit. But every attempt you make to quit brings you one step closer to success.
Quitting smoking and other tobacco use is the best thing you can do to improve your health — and your life.
Talk to your dentist about our options. Your smile will thank you for it.
→ Read the ODA media release, "Trying to Quit Smoking? Your Dentist Can Help."
How does tobacco affect my oral health?
All types of tobacco – including cigarettes, cigars and chewing (or smokeless) tobacco – are harmful for your oral and overall health. In addition to containing nicotine, which is highly addictive, tobacco can increase your risk of:
How can tobacco cause periodontal (gum) disease?
Smoking may be responsible for almost 75 percent of periodontal diseases among adults. Tobacco products damage your gum tissue by affecting the attachment of bone and soft tissue to your teeth. An example of the effect is receding gums. A receding gum line exposes the tooth roots and increases your risk of developing a sensitivity to hot and cold, or tooth decay in these unprotected areas.
What effects can smokeless tobacco have on my oral health?
Like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products contain a variety of toxins associated with cancer. At least 28 cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in smokeless tobacco products.
Smokeless tobacco is known to cause cancers of the mouth, lip, tongue and pancreas. Users also may be at risk for cancer of the voice box, esophagus, colon and bladder, because they swallow some of the toxins in the juice created by using smokeless tobacco.
Smokeless tobacco can irritate your gum tissue, causing periodontal (gum) disease. Sugar is often added to enhance the flavour of smokeless tobacco, increasing the risk for tooth decay. Smokeless tobacco also typically contains sand and grit, which can wear down your teeth.
Are cigars a safe alternative to cigarettes?
Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes. Even if you do not inhale cigar smoke, you are still at risk for oral and pharyngeal (throat) cancers. Like cigarette smokers, cigar smokers are at increased risk for periodontal (gum) disease, a leading cause of tooth loss. In addition to the health risks, cigar smoke, like cigarette smoke, can cause staining of the teeth and tongue as well as bad breath.
All other forms of tobacco, including pipes and rolled tobacco, are just as harmful to your health.
What are some of the signs of oral cancer?
Signs and symptoms that could indicate oral cancer include:
See your dentist if you notice any of these changes. For more information on oral cancer, click here.
Four in 10 smokers make an attempt to quit during the course of a year, but the withdrawal symptoms of nicotine are so severe, most smokers fail on their first attempt – less than two percent manage to remain smoke-free a year after quitting.
Deciding to stop smoking is the best decision you can make for your health, but it is also one of the hardest feats to accomplish.
DID YOU KNOW?
Dentists have advantages over other health-care professionals in providing tobacco cessation services to their patients. For one thing, people generally see their dentists on a more frequent and consistent basis through regular dental appointments. Dentists can also easily spot the damage tobacco does to the mouth and teeth — smokers tend to suffer from bad breath, stained teeth and dry mouth. People who smoke are also three times more likely to have severe periodontitis (gum disease) than non-smokers.
As an expert in oral health care, your dentist is trained and skilled in detecting gum disease, signs of oral cancer and other problems in your mouth. Smokers may be completely unaware of the impact that smoking can have on their oral health. Dentists can educate and inform patients of the risks, and can help patients who smoke stop before the impact worsens.
Dentists can also suggest – and, in some cases, prescribe – tobacco cessation medication for severe withdrawal symptoms.
Once you quit smoking, you will soon notice:
You will also experience:
|DID YOU KNOW?
Former smokers live longer than those who continue to smoke.
Smokers' Helpline is a free, confidential and non-judgmental service available to Ontarians who want to quit tobacco use or need help staying smoke-free. Smokers' Helpline offers phone, online and text-messaging services.
Canadian Cancer Society: Quitting Tobacco
These guides are based on the best available science about quitting smoking.
On the Road to Quitting: Guide to Becoming a Non-smoker (Health Canada)
This guide will help patients prepare and take action to successfully stop smoking. Also available in a PDF version for download.
Quit4Life (Health Canada)
A program to help 12- to 18-year-olds quit smoking, the Quit4Life handbook will help them learn about why they smoke, how to quit and how to stay quit.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Tips from Former Smokers campaign features real people suffering as a result of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke. Their compelling stories send a powerful message: Quit smoking now. Or better yet — don't start.
Sources: Health Canada, American Dental Association, Canadian Cancer Society, The Center for Addiction and Mental Health, The Lung Association