Using tobacco in any form, including smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco, can affect your oral health. Tobacco can cause gum disease, stained teeth, oral cancer, and a higher risk for tooth loss, including from untreated tooth decay . Your dentist can tell if you smoke or chew tobacco when examining your smile, but can your dentist help you stop smoking? Here’s what to know.
Dentists Are Often the First Professionals to Notice a Problem
Your dentist is often the first professional to find an issue with your health due to tobacco use. For many people who smoke or chew tobacco, the first signs that something’s wrong occurs in the oral cavity . Your dentist can identify any damage and discuss if you have any desire to quit.
While not every oral health professional is trained on how to best support patients while quitting tobacco, some dentists take continuing education courses through the American Dental Association (ADA) to become better equipped to support patients with tobacco cessation. These oral health professionals may be able to discuss your options for quitting with you and potentially help you put an actionable plan into place.
Your Dentist Can Be a Support System for You to Quit
Quitting smoking or chewing tobacco can be difficult, and your dentist may be able to work as part of a support system for you to kick the habit. Your dentist may or may not ask you about your tobacco use, but you can always approach your dentist about the topic and ask what resources they have available.
Dentists can help you establish connections with counseling programs that can help you quit, and can help you identify your motivation for quitting, which can be an important component in your quitting strategy .
Your dentist may also have literature about quitting tobacco in the office, so you can always ask what resources they have available to learn more. When you visit your dentist for regular checkups, your dentist can also help keep you accountable during the quitting process while helping your smile be as healthy as possible!
Remember, There’s No Safe Way to Use Tobacco
Even if you only use tobacco occasionally, it still affects your health as well as your smile. There’s no safe way to use tobacco. If you use tobacco and are interested in quitting, ask your dentist for any resources or support they have available for you. Your dentist is your partner is helping keep your smile healthy, and that includes quitting tobacco!