Smoking Cessation: Successful Quitters

by Dr. Rashmi Shankar, D.D.S.

Smoking has many harmful affects upon your health. Cigars, Cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco contain cancer causing toxins, increases risk of tooth loss, and causes bad breath and staining. Patients who are smokers and receiving dental treatment experience delayed wound healing post tooth extraction and gum surgery, and are extremely poor candidates for implants. Yet smoking still remains prevalent in our society today.

While we are constantly reminded of the destructive affects of smoking I’d like to address how to quit smoking.

  • First and foremost it is important to make the conscious decision to eliminate tobacco products from your life.  When making this decision it is important to know that nobody has to “quit cold turkey”.  Enlist the support of your health care professional, friends and family.  Inform them of your decision and of your quit date.
  • Second, consider the use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy, and inform your physician if you plan to use it. Nicotine can affect how some of your medications work.  Nicotine replacement therapy helps alleviate but does not eliminate cravings, and more importantly does not contain the cancer causing toxins found in cigarettes. 
  • Third, eliminate temptation by removing tobacco products from your home and by avoiding areas where people smoke.  Change lifestyle habits to make you feel better, this can include a healthier diet and exercise.

The 4 D's: Delay - Drink - Distraction - Deep Breathing

Finally, one must anticipate and plan for tobacco cravings by enlisting the 4D’s:

Delay - cravings will pass in 5-10 minutes,

Drink water - to help wash toxins from the body,

Distraction, and

Deep breathing to help relax.

Enlist the support of your dental health care provider by informing them of your decision to quit, meeting with him/her on your quit date, and ask for information which your dentist will be more than happy to provide.

Smokers can become successful quitters with the proper support from health care providers, family and friends. A successful plan helps to anticipate and tackle cravings. It will take some time to alleviate that dull, tense feeling you may be having and to feel like yourself again. Once you become a quitter you will feel more in charge of your life, more relaxed, and have greatly improved your health.

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