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Quit Smoking to Keep Your Mouth Healthy

You know smoking affects your mouth: It can cause bad breath and stained teeth. But it can also have an even more serious impact on your oral health. Smoking and smokeless tobacco can elevate risk for oral cancer and periodontal (gum) disease. In addition, they can increase healing time after oral surgery and limit your options for certain kinds of dental care.

So if you smoke, now is a good time to quit. Quitting will not only help keep your mouth healthy but will also help you stay healthier all around.

Here are some quitting tips from the American Cancer Society (ACS) and others:

  • Set a quit date. Make a quitting plan.

  • Enlist support. Turn to family, friends, and coworkers.

  • Join a support group. Check with your hospital, health insurer, or employer for information about such groups. Call the ACS at (800) ACS-2345¬†or (800) 227-2345 for a list of support groups.

  • See your family doctor to discuss smoking cessation. Ask what resources are available and whether medication to help you quit smoking is right for you. Ask about medication's side effects.

  • Consider biobehavioral therapies, such as hypnosis and acupuncture. These approaches can help people who want to quit smoking, lose weight, or alter other behaviors. Ask your family doctor for the name of a good psychotherapist or hypnotherapist. Contact the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture at (323) 937-5514 or visit its website at www.medicalacupuncture.org.

  • Join a stop-smoking program. You can find these at hospitals, work, or other places where people gather. Make sure the group leader has training in smoking cessation. The best programs involve counseling of two weeks or longer with four to seven counseling sessions or more. Each session should last at least 20 to 30 minutes.

"Guide to Quitting Smoking." American Cancer Society, October 22, 2009. http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/guidetoquittingsmoking/index. Accessed 2013.

"Smoking and Tobacco." Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/smoking-and-tobacco. Accessed 2013.

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