It’s never too late to quit smoking!

No matter how long you’ve smoked for, no matter how many cigarettes you smoke per day, your health will start to improve as soon as you quit.

Some health benefits are immediate, some are longer-term, but what matters is that it’s never too late. Just take a look at what happens once you put out that final cigarette.

What happens you quit smoking?

Here is what will happen after that last cigarette:

  1. After 20 minutes – check your heart rate. It will already be starting to return to normal.
  2. After 8 hours – your oxygen levels will be returning to normal and carbon monoxide levels in your blood will have reduced by half.
  3. After 48 hours – your body will have flushed out carbon monoxide; this will encourage your lungs to clear out mucus and your sense of taste and smell will start to improve.
  4. After 72 hours – your airway will have started to relax; this makes breathing feel easier and your energy levels will start to increase.
  5. Between 2-12 weeks – your circulation will be improving meaning your blood will be pumping through your heart and muscles more efficiently.
  6. Between 3-9 months – any coughs, wheezing and/or breathing problems will be improving as your lung function increases by up to 10%.
  7. After 1 year – your risk of having a heart attack compared to a smokers will have halved! Amazing news!
  8. After 10 years – more great news! Your risk of death from lung cancer will have halved compared to a smokers.
  9. After 15 years – your risk of having a heart attack is now the same as that of a non-smoker.

How can smoking affect my oral health?

Most people are now aware that smoking is bad for their health. It can cause many different medical problems and, in some cases, fatal diseases. However, many people don’t realise the damage that smoking does to their mouth, gums and teeth. Smoking can lead to tooth staining, gum disease, tooth loss, and in more severe cases mouth cancer.

Why are my teeth stained?

One of the effects of smoking is staining on the teeth due to the nicotine and tar in the tobacco. It can make your teeth yellow in a very short time, and heavy smokers often complain that their teeth are brown after years of smoking.

How will smoking affect my gums and teeth?

Smoking can also lead to gum disease. People who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque which leads to gum disease. The gums are affected because smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream therefore, the infected gums don’t heal. Smoking will lead to increased dental plaque and a faster progression of gum disease; gum disease is still the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.

How is smoking linked with cancer?

Most people know that smoking can cause lung and throat cancer but, what some people are unaware of is that it is also a leading cause of mouth cancer. Smokers are 6 times more likely than nonsmokers to develop mouth cancer.

How often should I visit my dentist?

It is important that you visit your dental team regularly for a routine full mouth examination; this allows any conditions to be spotted early. People who smoke are more likely to have affected gum health, and therefore may need appointments more often with the dental hygienist.

Your dentist will carry out a full neck, head and mouth assessment which would highlight any concerns.

They may also be able to put you in touch with organisations and self-help groups who will have the latest information to help you stop smoking.

Do you need support to quit smoking? Contact your GP for further information.

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