With November being lung cancer awareness month, Lindenwoods Dental has put together six tips to help our patients quit smoking. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women with nearly 80%-90% due to cigarette use. While your dentist in Kalamazoo is primarily focused on your oral health, these tips will promote overall health.
The first tip that is absolutely crucial to quitting smoking is the “why”. Why do you want to quit smoking? There are a hundred reasons under the sun why you should quit smoking but what is your reason. This needs to be something you can commit to. The reason may be you don’t want your children around second hand smoke, you don’t want to age your skin prematurely, you want to be able to know your grandchildren and lung cancer could take the opportunity away. Or maybe you want to save money and the cost of cigarettes have become an investment if you look at them over a year’s time.
Secondly, have a support system. Having a support system can do two things for you. On one hand it is your way to vent, talk about the urges, have them help you with distractions, give encouragement and be understanding to your possibly crabbiness and mood swings. The other part is that you will feel accountable when others know you are trying to quit. When we tell others of something we are trying to accomplish, we often try harder. We want to prove to not only ourselves but others we can handle the task.
Your support system can be family, friends, colleagues and even your own children. Let as many people know that are a part of your everyday life. Therapy and/or counseling is also another great option. Therapy gives you a support system, helps guide you through your journey and provides tools to help you stick with being a non-smoker.
The next tip is to find nicotine replacement therapies. Cold turkey is tough. Some may be able to go without and may even possibly be the only way to go for them. It doesn’t make you any less tough to use nicotine therapies, you are aware of your addiction and often addictions need to come down slowly. Be prepared for withdrawals. To combat withdrawals you can buy nicotine lozenges, gum and patches. Talk with your doctor and/or pharmacist on proper use.
Now that we have found the why, surrounded ourselves with a support system and have nicotine therapies to help with withdrawals, it’s time to take action. So you’ve thrown the cigarettes out, you feel ready and you can do this. Maybe you are wearing a patch or maybe not. The fourth tip is to avoid alcohol while you are trying to quit. It’s much harder to stick with your end goal when drinking. Then also think of the activities you follow up with a cigarette. For example after a meal if you usually have a cigarette fill that space with something else. Go brush your teeth, chew on sugarless gum or call a friend.
Next, stay busy. Clean the house, take the kids to the park, get work done (may not be so fun), play basketball with your friends. The point is you do need distractions. Make them healthy and productive ones. Go for a walk, a run, a hike. If it is winter and tough to be outside play games in the house, do free workouts from online or read a book. These activities will be a distraction and also give you a sense of accomplishment.
Lastly, reward yourself. Make this reward something for you. Take yourself shopping, go get a manicure, buy tickets to sports games, book teeth whitening services or do something that may otherwise not have done for yourself. Cigarettes are often grabbed when stressed. Book a massage for yourself so you can decompress and be proud of the goals you’ve achieved.
Being a dentist we often tell patients of the seriously negative effects smoking has on oral health; gum disease, oral cancer, yellowing of teeth, etc. But we don’t always give tips on how to quit. Hopefully these tips can help you on your journey to quit smoking for good. Remember that if for any reason you happen to spark up again, try again. Don’t give up. Try not to get discouraged and try and shift your mindset to being a non-smoker instead of “I’m trying to quit”.
If you are a smoker or have been a smoker and would like an oral health exam contact Kalamazoo dentist, Dr. Carrie Lintner. Don’t ever be embarrassed about the state of your teeth. It’s better to have them examined than let the damage and costs pile up.