With every bite she eats, Felicita remembers how smoking hurt her health. She developed gum disease—a danger for all smokers—and lost all her teeth by age 50. In one surgery, 23 teeth were removed. "It was very, very hard," says Felicita, who lives in Florida. It took a month for her mouth to heal. She doesn't like the way her dentures fit, so she uses only the top set. This means she can only eat soft foods now.
Felicita grew up in New York and started smoking at age 12. She smoked for 33 years but didn't realize that cigarettes added to her dental problems. In her 30s and 40s, she already had bleeding gums and loose teeth. By the time Felicita quit smoking, it was too late to save her teeth.
Today, Felicita loves being a nonsmoker. She can now keep up with her four children on walks: "I feel like I came back to life!" But Felicita doesn’t smile much anymore. She's embarrassed to have false teeth. "I feel like I destroyed my health and my appearance with cigarettes."
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- CDC/Office on Smoking and Health
4770 Buford Highway
Atlanta, Georgia 30341-3717