- Smoking is the single most preventable cause of illness and death worldwide.
- In the U.S., 12% of people still smoke, leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, COPD, type 2 diabetes, and oral cancer.
- Quitting smoking is possible with nicotine replacement products, counseling, support groups, and cold turkey methods.
- Replacing teeth lost from smoking can protect gums from bacterial exposure and reduce the chances of oral cancer.
- Regular dental checkups are recommended to detect any issues arising in the mouth due to smoking.
Smoking is incredibly harmful to your health. It’s a well-known fact that smoking is the single most preventable cause of illness and death worldwide. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can cause serious damage to organs throughout the body, leading to a wide range of diseases.
Smoking in The U.S.
It’s estimated that about 12% of Americans are still smoking cigarettes. That works out to just under 38 million people, making the U.S. one of the countries with the highest rates of smoking worldwide. Here are some diseases associated with it.
Smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The nicotine in cigarettes can cause blood vessels to constrict, which raises blood pressure and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. The tobacco and other chemicals in cigarettes can also damage the lining of blood vessels, causing inflammation and plaque buildup. This can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition in which arteries become narrow, stiff, and blocked.
Lung cancer is by far the most well-known disease associated with smoking. Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 80% of all lung cancer cases in the United States. The carcinogens in cigarette smoke can cause changes in lung cells that can lead to the development of cancerous tumors.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD makes it hard for people to breathe. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the two most common forms of COPD, and smoking is a significant cause. The chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage the airways and air sacs in the lungs, leading to inflammation and scarring. This makes it harder to move air in and out of the lungs and can lead to shortness of breath, chronic coughing, wheezing, and other respiratory symptoms.
Type 2 Diabetes
Smoking is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition that affects a person’s sugar levels. Researchers believe smoking can damage cells in the pancreas responsible for producing insulin, leading to insulin resistance and high blood sugar. Smoking can also worsen diabetes symptoms and increase the risk of complications like nerve damage, kidney disease, and vision problems.
Lastly, smoking is associated with an increased risk of oral cancer, including tongue, cheeks, gums, and lips cancers. The carcinogens in cigarette smoke can damage DNA and lead to the development of cancerous tumors in the mouth. Smokers are six times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-smokers.
Thankfully, you can avoid this in various ways. Replacing any teeth loss from smoking is crucial. Robust tooth replacements can protect your gums from bacterial and viral exposure, reducing oral cancer chances. Additionally, it’s less maintenance from your dentist. It’s recommended to go for a dental checkup at least twice per year, but if you have any concerns or notice something unusual occurring in the mouth, don’t hesitate to visit your dentist sooner.
Smoking can be problematic, but you can quit smoking in various ways. Here are some of those ways.
Various products, such as patches and gum, are now available to help you quit smoking. These products contain nicotine, which helps reduce cigarette cravings without the dangerous chemicals in smoke.
Counseling can also be helpful when quitting smoking. A trained counselor can help you identify triggers that make quitting challenging and develop strategies to stay away from cigarettes.
Support groups are another excellent option for people who want to quit smoking. Talking with other former smokers who understand what you’re going through can give you motivation and encouragement to stay on track with your goals.
Lastly, you can quit “cold turkey,” which means quitting wholly and suddenly. This method may help some people stay away from cigarettes permanently. You can do this by setting a quit date, planning to deal with cravings, and getting support from friends and family.
No matter the method you choose, quitting smoking takes determination and commitment. It’s not easy, but it is possible—and your health will thank you. For more information, contact your doctor for advice on quitting smoking. They’ll be able to provide you with the best resources to help you quit and keep your oral health in great shape.