Smoking is a funny habit. If you hear long time smokers describe what their cigarettes or tobacco is in their lives, it sounds something like this: My cigarettes are “like a reliable friend”, “something I can always count on”, “something that helps take the edge off,” “there to do everything with you- celebrate (have a cigarette), feeling sad (have a cigarette), going for a drive (have a cigarette).” The thing is, smoking and tobacco may start out casual and fun, but often turns into an unhealthy relationship. When someone is ready to quit, their once “friend” can be the source of anxiety, stress and fear. Even causing low self-esteem and with-drawl from others due to feeling bad about having a nicotine addiction.
At one time it was cool and glamorous and edgy to smoke cigarettes. It was an easy way to be part of the group. It was a way to take a break from work or the day. However times have changed and now smokers are banned to small corners or off premises to have a puff. Some want to quit but find they can’t. What do you do if that is you? Once you decide it is time to quit, how do you do it?
James G., a smoking cessation teacher at Kaiser Santa Rosa says, “To quit, you first have to figure out why you smoke. What is the need? What triggers you or makes you want to smoke? Lot’s of people who smoke are depressed and do not even know it.” In talking to people who have quit smoking, they all agree that there was a defining event in their life where they decided to quit. For some it was just the shame, or when smoking became “un-cool” they became tired of people telling them they were going to get cancer or that they smelled like smoke.
5 ways to quit smoking:
- Change your behaviors or routines that were part of smoking; If you don’t smoke, what will you do after a meal? (Trident Gum)
- Find a support system to help you through, like smoking cessation classes at Kaiser (KP.org Quit Smoking resources)
- Chantix or Wellbutrin are meds your doctor can prescribe to help with improving moods while reducing cravings for cigarettes (Chantix.com)
- Nicorette patches or gum
- 1-800-NO-BUTTS, a free phone line you can call when you get a craving. They offer free counseling and planning to help you stop smoking. (www.NoButts.org)
Ask your medical doctor, Dr. Lieu or any of your hygienists about how to quit smoking. Dental professionals see the effects of smoking on teeth and gums every day. Gum disease is directly linked to cigarette smoking. Oral cancer is directly linked to chewing tobacco. I always remind my “chewers” that chewing tobacco is the fastest way to give yourself cancer.
Now another popular trend is using “Vape” cigarettes. Vapor cigarettes are electronic or battery powered cigarettes that use flavored oils or liquid nicotine. The battery in the e-cig heats up the oil into a vapor and the smoker can inhale it through one end. I have had some patients who were long time smokers (think 20-30 years), who quit smoking using a vape. They used gradually lower and lower amounts of nicotine and eventually lost the cravings and desire to smoke. It is a gradual way to wean yourself, but there are also concerns about the safety of using e-cigs since they are new and have not really been studied long term for any side-affects. Nicotine patches and gum work similarly to help you gradually reduce the amount of nicotine your body craves. The e-cig still lets you have the act of smoking. A local store who can help you find if this option is for you is E-cig101 in Rohnert Park.
Many smokers develop Gum Disease from years of smoking. Gum Disease is breakdown of the bone under the gums and usually leads to loose teeth. Lost teeth can be replaced with Dental Implants or Partial Dentures or Dentures. If you are a smoker and not sure what your dental condition is, it is never too late to begin dental care. Even if you already have dentures or missing teeth, there are many ways you can have a beautiful looking smile. Interested in dental implants? Read this to see if they are right for you. Not sure how to start with dental care after years of neglect and worried that it will be expensive? Our Plan4Health is a great option for people without dental insurance who want to have a way to take care of their teeth.
The New Year will be here in about a month. Many people make a New Year’s resolution that they are going to quit smoking this year, and find that they are right back to it by February. If quitting is on your mind, take some time to explore the resources on this list. Having a plan helps when you get a craving. Are you going to reach for a cigarette or grab a piece of gum? Instead of a cigarette with your morning coffee, use that time to write a quick list or plan of accomplishments for your day or call a friend. Get rid of the ashtray or that hidden pack in the car or garage.
You can do it! Just think about how you want it to play out and make a promise to yourself that you will do it. You will feel great knowing you did what you intended and didn’t smoke. And if you mess up, that’s ok. Just start again new the next day.
Persistence always prevails!
Here are a couple of inspirational quotes:
Find your true path. It’s so easy to become someone we don’t want to be, without even realizing it’s happening. We are created by the choices we make every day. -Bernie Siegel
Guts get you there! -B.C. Forbes