Not on Tobacco

This past winter you may be aware that I was planning to participate in the Fight For Air Climb. This activity benefits our local chapter of the American Lung Association. The Fight For Air Climb is held annually in February in the Republic Building, downtown Denver. It consists quite simply of walking, hiking, or running up 56 floors in the stairwell of the Republic Building.

So-o-o, why on earth would anyone do that??? Well, first of all it’s for a pretty darn good cause. All of us need oxygen to breath and healthy lungs to live well. Also it’s a quick, fun activity to do on a chilly February morning with friends, and it is a challenge to take on trying for a personal best time.

The American Lung Association supports a number of interests. It can help people living with asthma and emphysema. It also has information regarding keeping our air clean, radon awareness and testing, and several successful smoking cessation programs. I was quite impressed by the success of their teen smoking cessation program. It is called N.O.T. This stands for “not on tobacco”. It has quite a success rate (about 90%) helping teens stop or greatly reduce their use of tobacco. If you have a teen dealing with this challenge, you might check out the Denver Lung Association.

One of the reasons this is important to me is that I’ve watched my patients who use tobacco deal with so many oral health problems. Periodontal disease is often relatively painless but is so destructive to the mouth, causing soft tissue loss (recession), bone loss, and eventually, tooth loss. In over 30 years of practice I have seen some degree of periodontal disease in my patients of all ages who use tobacco products, (smoking and smokeless). Tobacco use also inhibits the healing process when a patient has a procedure done. Oral cancer is also a very, very real concern. I won’t elaborate on details here, but the tobacco-related cases that have passed through my patients have been tragic.

So that’s why I crawled out of bed in the dark each morning to hit the gym, running, squatting, lunging my way to tired, but stronger quads to take on this challenge. It was a snowy morning this year, but most of us still made our way down to the Republic Building. Oh, we get to take the elevator back down after climbing the 56 floors.

How did I do? Well, perhaps because one of our patients who often participates in this event was away on vacation, I had the fastest time for my age group. A personal goal was to win my age group some day and I finally did just that. Yay!

Be well and keep flossin’!

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