It's no secret: smoking causes long-term health damage, including an elevated risk for lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and COPD. It can also have a profound effect on your mouth. Smokers have an increased risk of gum disease, which can cause you to lose your teeth. While dental implants can restore your smile, the procedure may fail in up to 15% of smokers, versus just over 1% of non-smokers. If you're planning to quit smoking before your dental implant surgery, here are some tips that can help.
Get Rid Of the Paraphernalia
The first step to finally kicking the habit is to get rid of everything related to smoking. That means far more than just the half-empty pack in your top desk drawer -- in order for this trick to be effective, you'll also need to dispose of your lighters, ashtrays and stash of half-smoked cigarette butts that you've saved for "an emergency".
It's also a good idea to give your car and home a thorough cleaning, since the lingering smell of cigarette smoke can quickly derail your efforts to quit.
Identify and Eliminate Your Smoking "Triggers"
Most smokers have several triggers: times, places or actions that absolutely require them to have a cigarette in their hand. For some, it may be the first cup of coffee or the morning commute to work; for others, it may be a late-night drink at the local watering hole or a long phone conversation with a friend.
In order to quit successfully, you'll need to eliminate as many of these triggers as you can. Some may be impossible to completely do away with -- you certainly can't avoid driving your own car – but if you get creative with the solution, the problem becomes less urgent.
Try filling your car's ashtray with potpourri or using it to hold your cell phone. Disable the fuse to the built-in cigarette lighter or tape a picture of a set of healthy teeth over it to remind you of why you're going through all of this.
Eliminating your triggers doesn't make quitting easy, but it does help.
Allow Others to Hold You Accountable
Once you've made the decision to quit, spread the information far and wide. Inform friends and family that you've decided to go smoke free and let the praise roll in. Not only does their moral support help, it's less tempting to cheat when others are holding you accountable for your decisions.
If you do happen to slip up, forgive yourself and move on. One mistake (or two, or three or four) shouldn't prevent you from doing what's best for yourself, your health and your future dental implants.
Three million Americans have dental implants and the number is increasing by half a million a year. If you continue to smoke after the procedure, you're not doing yourself (or your new teeth) any favors. Make a commitment today to quit smoking for good and never be ashamed of your smile again.