While it may be smokeless, there's nothing safe about opting for chewing tobacco over cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3.4 percent of American adults use chewing tobacco — even though it's been proven to cause major dental issues and oral cancer.
Whether you've started to see some of the negative effects or not, learning how to quit chewing tobacco is the right next step. Quitting sooner rather than later may help reverse some of the negative side effects and may possibly lower your risk of cancer. Here are some simple tips to help you plan, prepare and stay on track with habits to help you quit.
Consider Negative Side Effects of Chewing Tobacco
- Gum disease
- Tooth and enamel loss
- Tissue and bone loss
- Bad breath
- Stained teeth
- Oral, esophageal, and pancreatic cancers
No form of smokeless tobacco is a safer alternative to cigarettes, says the American Cancer Society. The University of Pennsylvania urges anyone using tobacco to quit to reduce their risk of tobacco-related cancers and coronary heart disease.
Talk to Your Dentist and Doctor
If you're ready to quit chewing tobacco, prepare yourself. Because chewing tobacco contains nicotine, it's highly addictive. One of the first steps you can take toward quitting is to have a conversation with your dentist and doctor about your plans. They can recommend stop-chewing aids that help you cope with nicotine withdrawal. They can also give you ideas that have helped other patients on their way to success. Next, put a plan in place to help curb cravings and increase your success of quitting.
Define Your Reasons to Quit Chewing Tobacco
Why do you want to quit? Defining your "why" may help you remember the importance of quitting when your cravings seem too strong to ignore. Write down a list of why quitting is important, such as better oral health, a reduced risk of cancer, and setting a good example for friends and family members. When you feel like you're going to give into cravings, review your list to boost your willpower.
Set a Clear Date
Whether you decide to quit cold turkey, with stop-chewing aids or by tapering your use, setting a date for quitting may help you be more specific about your goals. Simply saying you're going to use less chewing tobacco is ambiguous and hard to measure, so pick a specific day that will be the day you're done using chewing tobacco once and for all. A clear goal can help you better formulate your plan for how you'll stop and what constitutes success.
Tell Your Friends and Family
Make sure you have a good support system in place by telling your friends and family about quitting. When they know, your inner circle can be more sensitive to situations that might cause your cravings.
The more people who know about your goal, the more likely you may be to follow through. For greater accountability, try announcing your goal on social media. You can also reach out on online forums and websites for support and tips on how to deal with cravings.
Your oral health isn't worth the habit, so make a goal to quit. By talking with your dentist and putting a plan in place, you can learn how to quit chewing tobacco in a way that fits your lifestyle. By making your tobacco habit a thing of the past, you can benefit from improved oral health, lower risk of certain cancers, and a lot more spending money.