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National Kick Butts Day

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National Kick Butts Day

(Warning: Blog Contains Graphic Images)

“We are at a historic moment in our fight to end the epidemic of tobacco use that continues to kill more of our citizens than any other preventable cause” -Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., Former Surgeon General

Smoking– We all know that is bad for us and understand the long list of impacts it can have on our overall health. Yet with all of this knowledge nearly 3,000 teens become regular smokers each day! Today March 21st, The United States takes aim at ending the addiction to tobacco products with the National Kick Butts Day Campaign, therefore we thought it would be suitable to speak a little about this topic to our clients as well!

Tobacco causes mouth cancerWe have come a long way since 1964 when the surgeon general published their first report on smoking related to health, but the facts still remain that;

  • 9 out of 10 smokers start before the age 18
  • 3 of every 4 teen smokers become adult smokers
  • For every 1 adult that dies from smoking 2 teens take their place
  • Lung Cancer risk has risen 10 fold in Women and doubled in Men since 1964
  • 29% of smokers have an associates degree or higher education
  • More than 16 Million people have been diagnosed with at least one disease from smoking
  • More than 20 million Americans have died because of smoking since 1964, including approximately 2.5 million deaths due to exposure to secondhand smoke


How tobacco products affect your oral healthSmoking causes unsightly staining and tartar buildup

How are cigarettes and other tobacco products related to your oral health? We know that tobacco can cause the teeth to stain and become yellow as well as can cause bad breath. At the onset, these are just minor issues but they usually just indicate that overall dental health is declining.What is in a cigarette?

Tobacco products are also the main cause of oral cancers and gum disease. Which as we have read in previous blogs; Gum disease is an infection of the gums and can affect the bone structure that supports your teeth. In severe cases of Gum Disease or Periodontal Disease your gums can pull away from your teeth causing them to loosen and eventually fall out!  Smoking weakens your body’s ability to fight infection which you guessed it makes it harder to fight off the onset of gum disease. What does that mean for a current smoker? They are at twice the risk for gum disease compared to the non-smoker and more so because it is difficult for their body heal, treatments for gum disease may not work as well as they do for the non-smoker. Not only is the smoker twice as likely to develop gum disease, they are also twice as likely to lose their teeth all together from the periodontal disease. Plus added bonus, before you lose those teeth you are 50% more likely to need root canals (insert sarcasm).

A Tip From a Former Smoker

According to the American Dental Association (ADA) “About 90% of people with cancer of the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat use tobacco, and the risk of developing these cancers increases with the amount smoked or chewed and the duration of the habit. Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop there cancers.” The ADA also states that “About 37% of patients who persist in smoking after apparent cure of their cancer will develop second cancers of the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat, compared with only 6% of those who stop smoking”

Smokeless Tobacco

For those of you who think that smokeless tobacco is somehow better for you. I am going to change your opinion on that during this paragraph. Prolonged exposure to smokeless tobacco products such as chewing tobacco, Snuff, Dip, and Snus have been proven to cause mouth, throat, and esophagus cancers as well. In some cases parts of the mouth, jaw or throat may have to be removed. In addition to hindering one’s ability to eat or speak normally, these amputations can cause many emotional and psychological problems. Smokeless tobacco is extremely difficult to quit as it delivers 2-3 times the amount of nicotine as a cigarette meaning that “dipping” 8-10 times a day is the equivalent to smoking 30-40 cigarettes! Chewing tobacco and Snuff are also particularly nasty because it contains 10 times the amount of cancer causing substances than cigarettes. Below I share a snippet of Gruen Von Behrens’ story, who became a smokeless tobacco user at the age of 13 and who was diagnosed with cancer by the time he was 17!

Gruen Von BehrensGruen was just thirteen and on a camp-out with his friends when one pulled out a can of snuff he’s stolen from his father’s dresser drawer. “I thought, ‘Why not?”” he said. “I was 13. I had no care in the world. So I took a dip.” “At first it made me kind of sick and real dizzy. Next thing I knew I was addicted!” Doctors gave him a 25% chance of survival going into his first surgery. “At 17, you’re not supposed to think about life and death issues,” he said… Now 40 operations later at age 27, his lower face severely disfigured, his lower teeth and jawbone gone, half his tongue and neck muscle missing, his face patched with skin and muscle from his leg, Gruen pleads with all who’ll listen, “don’t do it, it ruined my life.” To read more about Gruen Von Behrens’ story visit

What can you do?

If you are a smoker or a parent with a child who you suspect may be using tobacco, you can start by understanding that tobacco dependence is a nicotine addiction disorder. There are four aspects to nicotine addiction; physical, sensory, psychological and behavioral. All aspects of nicotine addiction need to be addressed in order to break the habit. This difficulty can mean that tobacco users may need to try several times before they are able to successfully kick the habit.

No better day then todayAfter you have come to terms with using tobacco is not a choice it is an addiction we suggest next that you initiate the conversation. Some ways that you could bring this up politely are saying something like; “I heard on the news that taxes on cigarettes might go up soon. Sounds expensive. What do you think?” or something like; I saw a commercial last night that showed an ex-smoker who lost teeth from gum disease caused by smoking. I didn’t know that could happen. Did you?”

Once you have gotten the conversation started it is important to understand that most people who quit don’t do it on their own. They get a lot of help and support from friends, family, and significant others. It helps when you recognise your friend or family member’s small successes when quitting and avoid criticizing them if they slip up and have a cigarette.  Our last piece of advice is to create distractions for them such as; go to the movies, take a walk, plan a game night, or you can sign up for a class like painting or cooking.


Resources for tobacco users and their friends/family


Text QUIT to 47848



Dr. Wendy and Dr. Jim McCreight along with their experienced Team at McCreight Progressive Dentistry offer exceptional dental care at our convenient Steamboat Springs, Colorado office.


Looking for a dentist in the Western Slope area? Please call us and schedule an initial hygiene appointment (970) 879-4703.

For other oral tips visit our website and check out our informative videos!


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By: Anna Nierenberg, Director of First Impressions at McCreight Progressive Dentistry.