November 17 is the date for the Great American Smokeout, when you can get moral support around the country to make the step toward better health.

New research by The Oral Health Foundation shows that as few as 40% of us are able to recognize changes in the mouth that are related to oral cancer, such as non-healing mouth ulcers, red or white patches in the mouth, and unusual lumps or swelling. Early diagnosis of mouth cancer changes your chances of beating the disease from 50% to 90%. Your visit to an oral surgeon or dentist can save your life.

Here’s some good news as you move forward with your non-smoking goals:

  • no matter how long you have smoked, quitting can significantly reduce your risk of gum disease and tooth loss
  • over time, the risks continue to diminish until they are almost at the level of non-smokers
  • food tastes better
  • sense of smell is more acute
  • you can be more active without getting winded
  • reduce your risk of getting cancer
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