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Quitting Tobacco: You can do it!

Do you smoke or use chewing tobacco? Rarely a day goes by without a magazine, newspaper, or TV news report carrying a message about tobacco-related medical problems the dangers of lung disease, cancer, heart problems and low-birth weight babies. Perhaps you even tune out those messages because you do not want to quit just yet—or you think you cannot.

Tobacco is harmful to your mouth, not to mention your social life. Here are just a few reasons

why: Smelly breath, stained teeth, loss of teeth and jawbone, loss of taste, gum recession,

outrageous cost, oral cancer, mouth sores and wrinkles!

Tobacco's negative effects on the body, particularly the mouth, are well documented. Smoking impairs the body’s defense mechanisms and makes users more susceptible to infections like gum disease. Smoking also interferes with healing, a particular problem for patients who need treatment for periodontal disease. Once the ingredients in tobacco get into the bloodstream, they reduce the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to mouth tissues.

Chewing (spit) tobacco is not a safe substitute for smoking. It can cause oral cancer and lead to addiction. The bloodstream quickly absorbs the extremely addictive nicotine. Chewing tobacco users have similar or even higher levels of nicotine than the smoker who uses a pack or more a day. Chewing tobacco users are more susceptible to tooth decay due to the product’s higher sugar content. And chewing tobacco contains at least 28 known cancer-causing chemicals.

It is no secret that tobacco use is difficult to stop—it takes willpower and determination. Tobacco use is not just a habit; it is an addiction. You must be ready to face this challenge before you commit to quit.

Remind yourself of the benefits of quitting. You will reduce the risk of cancer. You will taste and enjoy food again. You will feel more relaxed without the jitters of nicotine. You will not be plagued by smoker’s breath. Your sense of smell will be sharper. Your family and friends will thank you.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Get help from loved ones, friends and co-workers when going through the quitting process. Ask another smoker to quit with you. Call organizations such as the American Cancer Society for support groups in your area. Get ready by setting a date to quit. Get help by talking to your dentist or physician about nicotine cessation aids.

For more tips on quitting, check the American Cancer Society’s website and Quitline Iowa.

February is National Children's Dental Health Month. Reprinted from the American Dental Association (ADA)

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