Help To Quit Smoking

Author: Dr. David Dickerhoff, DDS, MAGD, FOCOI

I picked this information up from an American Dental Association (ADA) website and thought I might pass it along for your edification. A new report published by NiceRx analyzed rates of smoking among residents of US states.  West Virginia has the highest rate of smoking among residents at 23.8% of the population. Interestingly, it also has the greatest number of smoking related deaths at 241 per 100,000 residents. While Utah has the lowest smoking rate at 7.9% of the population as well as the lowest number of smoking related deaths at 39 per 100,000 residents. According to the CDC, as the top cause of preventable disease and death in the US, smoking results in 480.000 deaths every year. Approximately 30.8 million US adults smoked cigarettes in 2020 and cigarette smoking cost the US more than $600 billion in 2018 to treat.

My observations as a clinician with my patient population is that smokers are notoriously poor healers after dental surgery than non-smokers. The vaso-active chemicals in tobacco smoke like tar and nicotine are vasoconstrictors and limit the amount of oxygen to healing tissues thus slowing their recovery.  It has been shown in study after study that smoking is a contributory factor in the initiation of gingivitis and periodontal disease. I could go on and on about the detrimental effects associated with smoking, but let’s talk about what we can do to cease or limit this destructive habit.

These nicotinic substances sit on neural receptors and are a part of providing that “lift” that smokers enjoy with their habit. Ceasing smoking is made more difficult when these receptors are deprived of their stimulation associated with the habit. Drugs like Chantix sit on these receptors and “fool” the body into thinking that they are continuing to smoke. This is no magic bullet as you have to find a patient that wants to quit and is motivated to remain positive about the possibility. As with any addictive habit, quitting has effects, both physical and mental.  There typically is a clinical depression associated with giving up. Sometimes, using mood elevating drugs such as Wellbutrin is also helpful in smoothing out the road to smoking cessation. A positive support system is also helpful. If a spouse is attempting to quit without the support of a significant other, the chances of failure are elevated especially if that significant other is actively smoking.

But the benefits of being a reformed smoker have been shown to have multiple benefits. The body is a “healing machine” and will counteract the detrimental effects of smoking over time.  Better lung function, improved healing capacity and increased taste sensation are all documented benefits to smoking cessation. I haven’t even touched on the risk of oral cancer and its link to a smoking habit.

Spring Lake Dental Group offers advice and treatment for those interested in smoking cessation. We will always be vigilant in looking for evidence of oral cancer or periodontal disease, but the benefits of quitting smoking have always been a goal we encourage for our patients. Keep that dialogue alive with your doctors and let us know when you reach that decision in your life to be healthier through smoking cessation.