You Can Do It! Giving Up Smoking for Better Dental Health
August 4, 2017

Help with Smoking Cessation

As dental professionals, at Jamie J. Alexander, DDS, we believe we should actively work to help our patients giving up smoking. One of the techniques we use is called “the 5 A’s” (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, and Arrange). Dr. Jamie J. Alexander believes patients can succeed at smoking cessation, even when there is no insurance reimbursement and when patients are addicted to nicotine. He believes patients can do it. He not only urges them; he takes time and personal interest to help them do it.

Why Giving up Smoking Helps with Dental Health

We know that habitual smokers are more likely to get gum disease and more likely to develop the plaque buildup that contributes to gum disease. By the time many of these patients start to have symptoms, their disease is advanced and often less responsive to treatment. Carcinogens and gases associated with tobacco smoke have negative effects on systemic health and make it more difficult for the body to heal and organs to function. They contribute to inflammatory diseases of all kinds, with lung disease and cardiovascular disease being among the most well-known to the public. Between 1964 and 2004, more than 12 million Americans died prematurely from smoking, and another 25 million U.S. smokers alive today will most likely die of a smoking-related illness. It accounts for about one-third of all cancer deaths.

Assistance with Giving up Smoking

Although some smokers can quit without help, many individuals need assistance. Extensive research has shown that treatments for tobacco addiction do work. Nicotine replacement treatments (NRTs) include nicotine gum and the transdermal nicotine patch. These were the first pharmacological treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for smoking cessation therapy and are now available over the counter. Dr. Alexander’s patients have had success with a combination of behavioral support and NRT treatment to relieve withdrawal symptoms. NRTs use low levels of nicotine and have little abuse potential since they do not produce the pleasurable effects of tobacco products.

Over-the-counter (OTC) FDA-approved Nicorette gum, lozenges, and nasal spray work for many to relieve cravings. The OTC Nicoderm transdermal patches are well known, and there are now some generic brands offered by the chain pharmacies. Studies indicate all the NRT products are equally effective.

Although the primary focus of pharmacological treatments for tobacco addiction has been nicotine replacement, other treatments are also available. For example, the antidepressant bupropion was approved by the FDA in 1997 to help people quit smoking and is marketed as Zyban. Varenicline tartrate (Chantix) is a medication that recently received FDA approval for smoking cessation. This medication, which acts at the sites in the brain affected by nicotine, may help people quit by easing withdrawal symptoms and blocking the effects of nicotine if people resume smoking. If NRTs have not worked for you, Dr. Alexander might recommend that you consult with your primary physician and recovery therapist about prescription medication that could help.

Behavioral therapy and emotional support play an important role in giving up smoking. As a patient, through supportive conversations, we can help you recognize high-risk smoking situations and develop alternative coping strategies for managing stress. In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has a national toll-free number, 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669), to serve as a single access point for smokers seeking information and assistance in quitting. Callers to the number are routed to their State’s smoking cessation quit line or, in States that have not established quit lines, to one maintained by the National Cancer Institute. A new HHS Web site (www.smokefree.gov) offers online advice and downloadable information to make cessation easier.

When you come to the office of Jamie J. Alexander, DDS, for your oral health care, you will receive the encouragement and support you need to stop smoking. If you are an individual in drug or alcohol addiction recovery, we know smoking cessation may be more difficult for you. No one understands this better than Dr. Jamie Alexander, Boynton Beach, Florida’s Recovery Dentist.

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Dr. Jamie Alexander

Dr. Alexander is committed to providing the best health and dental care available within a warm, welcoming, and safe environment. Our goal at Recovery Dentistry is to build long-term relationships with our patients and provide services that are customized and appropriate for each individual. No matter your current state of dental health or feelings about your teeth, we are experts at helping move patients down the path to complete comfort and optimal dental health, function and esthetics.