Girl with cigarette outside

Smoking Alternatives: Helpful or Harmful?

In the 20th century, tobacco use killed more people than World War I and World War II combined. Smoking cigarettes not only stains your teeth and makes it harder to breathe, it can also lead to heart disease, lung cancer, pregnancy complications, erectile dysfunction, anxiety, poor vision and oral cancer. But most people already know about the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes and the addictive nature of nicotine, which is why the number of smokers has been decreasing steadily over time.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of 7 out of 10 current smokers in the US who say they’d like to quit altogether. And you’ve likely tried smoking alternatives that are advertised as healthier options. In this article, we will help you make a smart decision by discussing popular smoking alternatives and whether they are harmful or helpful.

E-Cigarettes / Vape Pens

Electronic Cigarettes & Vaporizers

Believe it or not, electronic cigarettes were first invented in the 1930s, but the modern version we know didn’t gain popularity until the 2000s. An e-cigarette (or electronic cigarette) is a battery-powered device that converts liquid nicotine into a mist, or vapor, that the user inhales. There’s no fire, no ash and no smoky smell. E-cigarettes do not contain many of the harmful chemicals in traditional cigarettes, like carbon monoxide or tar. E-cigarettes, vaporizers and vape pens have been advertised as more convenient, less addictive, healthier and more socially acceptable than paper cigarettes – but more and more research is proving these claims to be false. One 2016 report suggests that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) were equally damaging—in some cases, more damaging—to mouth cells as tobacco smoke. E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular with teenagers and college students, and there are non-nicotine versions of e-liquid (vape juice) available for purchase. But these products are still not regulated by the FDA and have not yet been researched enough to prove they are a safe alternative to smoking. Until we see some better evidence to support advertisers’ claims, our suggestion is to seek another stop-smoking aid.

Verdict: Harmful


Cigarette rolling machine, loose tobacco and rolled cigarettes

Rollies, Clove Cigarettes & Flavored Cigarillos

We’ve grouped these three types of cigarette alternatives together for the same reason – they are often misrepresented as a lighter, safer smoking experience as well as a healthier choice. Roll-your-own cigarettes (“rollies”) are often promoted as a more natural or organic alternative – and for some, a more authentic or cooler experience. Unfortunately “rollies” have seen a slight uptick in usage worldwide, and have actually have a higher risk of cancers of the larynx (voice box), esophagus (swallowing tube), mouth, and pharynx (throat) when compared with smokers of machine-made cigarettes – even if you use a filter.

Clove cigarettes (kreteks) and bidis are generally seen as more flavorful and contain ingredients not found in traditional cigarettes. People who smoke cloves sometimes think that they are less addictive or less hazardous than cigarettes, but studies show they have just as many negative effects as traditional cigarettes. Bidis are especially dangerous because it takes a deeper and more frequent inhale to keep them burning. Bidis often containing higher levels of tar, carbon monoxide and cigarettes and bidi smokers are at higher risk for heart attack, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and cancer. For all you Black & Mild or Swisher Sweet fans out there, you might be doing more harm than if you smoked cigarettes – putting you at risk for cancer, heart attack and respiratory diseases. Remember that cigars are not designed to be inhaled so when you choose to inhale cigar/cigarillo smoke, you might be doing even more damage to your lungs, brain and heart. If you’re looking to curb your habit, look elsewhere.

Verdict: Harmful

Hand holds smokeless tobacco product while other hand removes product with fingers

Smokeless Tobacco: Chew, Dip, Plug, Snuff & Snus

Smokeless tobacco comes in many different packages but for the most part, it is not a safe alternative to smoking. For example, one can of snuff contains the same amount of nicotine as 4 packs of cigarettes and dipping 8 to 10 times a day introduces as much nicotine into the body as smoking 30-40 cigarettes. And studies have shown that those who switch from cigarette smoking to chewing tobacco were more than 2.5 times as likely to develop cancer of the mouth or throat compared to those who quit smoking all together. If you’re trying to curb your habit or find a healthier alternative, smokeless tobacco is not the answer – because it still contains most of the chemicals in cigarettes that cause lung cancer and has even been tied to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

However, there is one exception and it comes in the form of a Swedish invention called “Snus.”  Snus is still highly addictive, but research shows that using snus to quit smoking has been proven to improve success rates by 50%. Also, in a large-scale study conducted in Australia, lifelong users of snus had a life expectancy comparable to those who quit tobacco all together. But it is important to note that this study was conducted in Sweden using the Swedish product, and American snus products are regulated differently. So it is possible that in the future, snus will become a helpful, recommended stop-smoking aid – for now, we remain skeptical of it being used in this way.

Verdict: Harmful

Smoking hookah with fruit head on dark background

Hookah or Shisha

Hookah (or Shisha, depending on your location) is a type of water pipe that is often smoked in social settings, at bars or parties. The tobacco is generally fruit-flavored, and its smoke is inhaled through long rubber hoses into a mouthpiece. Hookah smoke contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals. Hookah smoking delivers about the same amount of nicotine as cigarette smoking, and can even lead to dependence and increased smoking habits. If you’re smoking hookah in a public place, there is also a chance that the equipment has not been properly cleaned – so there is an increased risk of contracting infectious diseases there. Hookah can be a fun, once-in-a-while activity with friends, but it is not a safe alternative to smoking and it will not help you quit smoking cigarettes.

Verdict: Harmful

 

There are many reasons to quit smoking, and it’s never too late. Quitting today can help reduce your risk of lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and asthma – and it can even improve brain function. Studies have shown that quitting at around age 30 reduces the chance of dying from smoking-related diseases by more than 90%. If you quit at around age 50, you reduce the risk of dying prematurely by 50% compared with those who continue to smoke. Even those who quit at around age 60 or older live longer than those who continue to smoke.

At Howard Family Dental, we are committed not just to your oral health, but to helping you live a longer, happier and more rewarding life. If you are a smoker, talk to us at your next cleaning about quitting. We’d be happy to discuss safe alternatives, stop-smoking aids we recommend and how quitting smoking today will improve your oral health. We are always happy to provide an oral cancer screening for you, which will alert us to any warning signs that you might be at risk for oral cancer. Good luck on your journey to stop smoking! We’ll be right here cheering for you.

Happy 2017!

Wishing you healthy, peaceful and joyful New Year full of fun! Here’s a New Year’s Resolution we hope to see… more smiles in 2017!

Man and woman smile while looking at a laptop, man is holding a credit card, CareCredit logo in top left corner

We Accept CareCredit

We aim to make dental care as available as possible to our patients, which is why we accept CareCredit at our offices.

CareCredit is a healthcare credit card designated to help pay for your out-of-pocket expenses, treatment and procedures.

Once approved for CareCredit, patients can charge expenses and depending on the financial option selected, patients can make deferred interest payments.

We are happy to help answer your questions about CareCredit. If you’d like to talk further, feel free to call any of our locations.

If you are ready to apply for CareCredit now, click here.

 

Thinking young woman looking up at many question marks isolated on gray wall background

Are you missing out on free dental care?

Did you know: Most dental benefits are only available for one year?

Unused benefits — like FSA balances — from the prior year don’t necessarily roll over at the end of the calendar year. Many dental plans provide coverage up to a certain dollar amount annually, which means you could be missing out on free or discounted dental care. In fact, dental insurance companies count on making millions off of patients who never use their insurance benefits.

At Howard Family Dental, we are committed to helping you achieve the smile of your dreams and making dental care attainable, which includes utilizing your dental benefits. If you have been putting off a trip to the dentist or dental treatment, now is a great time to come in! We will review your dental benefits with you and show you how to maximize your benefits so that you can complete any outstanding treatment.

We also offer Payment Options and Care Credit if you need help covering any out-of-pocket expenses.

Give us a call today to see how we can help you use your benefits before you lose them!

Family having traditional holiday dinner with stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, vegetables pumpkin and pecan pie.

The 3 Best Thanksgiving Dishes for Your Teeth

As you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal this year, you might think about how it’s affecting the scale or your belt buckle — but what about your dental health? We’ve talked a lot about the link between dental health and overall health on our blog, so it’s no surprise that some foods are better for your teeth than others. Find out what’s inside some of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes and the positive effects they have on your teeth and gums.

Roasted turkey served on plate with a variety of vegetables, ready for dinner on Thanksgiving

Turkey

What’s inside: Protein, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorus, Potassium and B Vitamins

Effects on your teeth: The star of the whole meal is probably the best thing for you on the table. Turkey is low in fat and high in protein, which strengthens teeth and your immune system. The minerals found in turkey — iron and zinc — promote healthy mucosal tissues that act as a barrier between your gums and dangerous bacteria. Phosphorous is important to bone health because it maximizes the benefits of calcium. And B Vitamins not only give you a natural energy boost, but they can also help prevent periodontal disease and repair damaged gum tissue. In fact, one of the only downsides to turkey is that it gets caught in your teeth, so you might want to bring along a flossing pick to Grandma’s house this year.


Homemade Red Cranberry Sauce for the Holidays

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

What’s inside: Antioxidants, Vitamin C & Fiber

Effects on your teeth: Cranberries — like blueberries, kale and oatmeal — are often called a superfood because of their many health benefits. They are one of the most antioxidant-rich foods you can find, and antioxidants load your cells to protect you from disease. Cranberries are also rich in dietary fiber, which has been shown to reduce tooth decay, and Vitamin C. which strengthens your immune system. Most people go with canned cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving and we don’t blame you for saving some time, but unfortunately canned recipes are packed with sugar. Excessive sugar can damage your teeth enamel and lead to tooth decay, among other dental health problems. When you make your own cranberry sauce at home, you decide how much sugar goes in. So if you’re looking for a healthy alternative to canned cranberry sauce, check out this great recipe from Cookie and Kate.


Homemade Cooked Sweet Potato with Onions and Herbs

Yams or Sweet Potatoes

What’s inside: Vitamin C, Thiamine, Niacin, Vitamin A, Fiber & Potassium

Effects on your teeth: Yams and sweet potatoes are often interchangeable in recipes and can be prepared a lot of different ways on Thanksgiving — some of them more healthy than others. But at the heart of every yam or sweet potato dish is a vitamin-packed starch that is low in fat and high in nutritional value. Great at regulating blood sugar, their anti-inflammatory properties can help prevent periodontal disease. Healthy doses of Thiamine and Niacin in a balanced diet can decrease tooth decay. And Vitamin A promotes saliva production, which is crucial for cleaning away destructive bacteria and food particles from between teeth and gums. A lot of yam or sweet potato dishes are sweetened with sugar or marshmallows, but Thanksgiving is a time for a little rule-breaking — go ahead and splurge. Just remember to rinse your mouth with water any time you eat a sugary dish.


Happy Thanksgiving from our Family to yours!

Successful 2016 Free Dental Day!

THANK YOU to everyone who volunteered their materials, services and time to help make our 2016 Free Dental Day a huge success! We were able to serve over 220 people this year.

We are so thankful to serve this wonderful community 8 years in a row and it would not be possible without our volunteers!

hooded boxer with lights and gumshield

Difference Between Night Guards and Mouth Guards

We’ve heard a few names for the plastic thing people wear to protect their teeth during physical activities or sleep. If you or your children are involved in contact sports, or if you ever feel jaw pain especially after sleep, we’ll clear up the differences between night guards and mouth guards for you. And we’ll help you decide which one you need.

What is a Night Guard?

An occlusal splint is commonly called a dental guard, night guard or bite guard. It is used to protect your teeth while you sleep. Most dentists recommend night guards to patients who grind their teeth, which is often as a result of stress or anxiety. When someone habitually grinds his or her teeth, it is called bruxism, a very common condition that affects 10% of people and as many as 15% of children. Grinding your teeth can ruin enamel, increase tooth sensitivity and chip your teeth. Too much grinding and clenching of the jaw can result in a condition of the jaw called TMJ, which can sometimes require surgery.

Close-up shot of doctors hands in gloves holding silicone mouth guard. Teeth care

Do you or your children ever wake up with jaw pain or think you might be grinding your teeth? Schedule a consultation with your dentist to discuss getting a custom-fit night guard. In just one visit, we can evaluate your grinding habits and take an impression of your smile. Some of our offices can even make your night guard in their own lab! In about 1-2 weeks, you’ll have your night guard and be sleeping easier.

What is a Mouth Guard?

A mouth guard is a protective device for the mouth that covers the teeth and gums to prevent and reduce injury to the teeth, lips and gums. The American Dental Association recommends wearing a mouth guard for many sports played in the fall and winter:

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Field Hockey
  • Gymnastics
  • Ice Hockey
  • Lacrosse
  • Rugby
  • Volleyball
  • Boxing
  • Wrestling
  • Ultimate Frisbee

Custom mouth guards are recommended over store-bought, and do more than just protect your teeth. According to one study, “high school football players wearing store-bought mouth guards were more than twice as likely to suffer mild traumatic brain injuries than those wearing properly fitted, custom mouth guards.” Ask your dentist to make a dental impression for you, which will be sent off to a lab that produces mouth guards or made in one of our office’s labs.

Photo sports mouth guard and medical capacitor on a white background

girls on the run 5k 2016 logo

Girls on the Run 5K Celebration Run

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Join us Saturday, November 12

Girls on the Run is an organization in Coastal Georgia that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Howard Family Dental is prooud to be a sponsor of this weekend’s Girls on the Run 5K Celebration Run to raise money for programs that inspire young women to achieve their goals.

Time: 8:30 AM
Venue: Bryan Square, Hutchinson Island, Savannah, GA
Location: Savannah, GA

Online registration for the 5K Celebration Run is now closed. To register for the event, go to Fleet Feet on Nov. 11 from 10:00-6:00 OR on race morning at 7:00am at Bryan Square on Hutchinson Island. For complete details about the 5K Celebration run, click here.

5K Celebration Run Flyer

Message from Girls on the Run’s Executive Director

We were able to reach 565 girls during this fall season, our largest number of girls ever.  We anticipate a large crowd on Saturday, November 12th for our fall 5K, beginning in Bryan Square which is located between The Westin and the International Trade Center.  The run begins at 8:30 AM from Bryan Square and will continue through Hutchinson Island and onto the back nine of the Club at the Harbor.   There is plenty of free parking at the International Trade Center. We will be having lots of fun before the start in our games area, having our hair painted, using the hula hoops, writing notes of gratitude and, of course, dancing to the tunes.  We hope you will join us for much of the morning. We plan to have a table and two chairs in the vendor area for you as in the past.

We are also looking for volunteers to help that morning, so please spread the word to your family, friends and co-workers!  Volunteers may also sign up on our website.  We need nearly 100 volunteers to make sure this run is safe and successful for our community.

Call (912)-629-9000
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