Celebrate the Great American Smokeout Nov. 15th

November is an apt time for patients to talk with their dentists about quitting smoking and the dangers of tobacco and nicotine on their health.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., accounting for 29 percent of all cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. Each year, more than 480,000 people die from illnesses caused by smoking.

In addition, all of the major forms of tobacco used in the U.S. have oral health consequences, according to the ADA. Cigarette smoking can lead to a variety of adverse oral effects, including gingival recession, oral cancer, periodontal disease and tooth staining. Useless tobacco is associated with increased risk of oral cancer and oral mucosal lesions. And smokeless tobacco use can cause enamel erosion, tooth loss and periodontal disease.

On the third Thursday of each November, the American Cancer Society holds The Great American Smokeout, a day intended to inspire people to make a plan to quit smoking or to quit smoking on that day. This year, The Great American Smokeout is Nov. 15. For more information, including tools and resources, visit cancer.org/smokeout.

The theme for this year's Great American Smoke out is "Day 1," reflecting the idea that quitting smoking takes time and a plan.

MouthHealthy.org, the ADA’s consumer website, offers six steps to quit smoking:

·      Step 1: Have a plan — Once you’ve made up your mind to quit smoking and set the date, develop a plan. There are free tools online at smokefree.gov and a toll-free number, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, to help you succeed. Download an app to track your progress.

·      Step 2: Don’t go it alone — It will be easier to quit smoking if you have support from family and friends. Let them know you’ve decided to quit, ask for their support, and tell them specifically what they can do to help. Spend time with people who want you to succeed. Talk to friends who have quit and ask for their advice.

·      Step 3: Stay busy — Replace smoking habits with healthier options, such as exercise. Make plans for dinner or a movie with non-smoking friends. Instead of smoking, chew sugarless gum, which keeps your mouth busy and helps prevent cavities, too.

·      Step 4: Avoid smoking triggers — Stay away from people, places and things that tempt you to smoke. These triggers include stress, alcohol, coffee and hanging out with people who smoke. Throw out cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaporizers, lighters and ashtrays, and go to places where smoking isn’t allowed.

·      Step 5: Avoid other tobacco products — Smokers who used e-cigarettes to help them quit were 59 percent less likely to stop than those who didn’t. There are also no regulations on how many contaminants they can contain, there is a risk of e-cigarette explosions and fires, and more studies are needed to see how they affect your health.

·      Step 6: Reward your accomplishments — Quitting is hard. Every hour or day one goes without a cigarette is an achievement. Treat yourself with all the money you save on cigarettes.

© 2018 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Tobacco's greatest threat to your health may be its association with oral cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that:

  • About 90 percent of people with mouth cancer and some types of throat cancer have used tobacco. The risk of developing these cancers increases as people smoke or chew more often or for a longer time.

  • Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop these cancers.

  • About 37 percent of patients who continue to smoke after cancer treatment will develop second cancers of the mouth, throat or larynx. While only 6 percent of people who quit smoking will develop these secondary cancers.

  • Smokeless tobacco has been linked to cancers of the cheek, gums and inner surface of the lips. Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of these cancers by nearly 50 times.7