The ball has dropped, and many of us have made our New Year’s resolutions. If you’re a smoker, you may have made the resolution to quit smoking many times before…only to light up again.
While smoking can impact your overall health, it can also harm your teeth and oral health. Discoloration and bad breath aside, smoking also leads to increased risk for other dental complications:
- Build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth
- Bone loss in the jaw
- Leukoplakia (white patches inside the mouth)
- Gum disease, which causes tooth loss
- Developing oral cancer
Want to keep your resolution to quit smoking in the New Year? It’s more than just quitting cold turkey. To be successful, you’ll need a plan. Here are five steps to START your stop smoking plan from the National Cancer Institute:
S = Set a quit date.
Choose a date that’s a couple of weeks out. This will give you enough time to prepare, but isn’t so far away that you lose your motivation.
T = Tell family, friends and co-workers that you plan to quit.
You will need the support of friends and family when you quit, so let them know. If a friend or family member also wants to quit, consider teaming up. You can boost each other up in difficult times.
A = Anticipate challenges you'll face while quitting.
Most people who begin smoking again do so within the first 3 months. Nicotine withdrawal and cigarette cravings are common reasons. Preparing for challenges such as these can increase your success of getting through them.
R = Remove cigarettes and other tobacco products from your home, car and purse, etc.
Throw away all of your cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays and matches. It’s also a good idea to wash all your clothes and freshen up your house and car to remove the cigarette smell, which can tempt you.
T = Talk with your doctor about getting help to quit.
Your doctor can prescribe medication to help with withdrawal. There are also over the counter products you can purchase at your local pharmacy, such as the nicotine patch, nicotine lozenges and nicotine gum.
These are all important steps to take, but to be on top of your oral health, don't miss your dental checkup or regular cleanings.