There are many forms of tobacco without smoke, but no matter how it’s used, smokeless tobacco is still trouble. Cigarettes get the most attention for causing lung cancer, but many don’t realize that using cigarettes and other forms of nicotine can be just as damaging to your general and oral health. Get a closer look at what’s really being sold and how it could be more harmful than you think.
There are many forms of smokeless tobacco, and even one try can lead to addiction and serious throat and mouth issues. You should also know that regulations differ by country, so the lack of clear warnings doesn’t mean the product is less harmful. Here are some examples of common smokeless tobacco products:
- Chewing tobacco: loose leaves (sometimes in pouches) for placement inside the cheek
- Snuff or “Dip”: ground or shredded tobacco stored in tins for sniffing or chewing
- Tobacco lozenges: powdery, tobacco-infused candies that dissolve in the mouth
Risk to Your Oral Health
Your oral health is greatly affected by tobacco use:
- Stained or yellowed teeth from contact with tobacco juices
- Periodontitis, or gum irritation from exposure to tobacco
- Bad breath as tobacco mixes with saliva and other food particles
- Cavities due to the sugar found in sweetened tobacco products
- Oral cancer
Other possible side effects include teeth sensitivity, enamel erosion and decreased sense of taste or smell. As bad and potentially costly as these dental problems may be, they pale in comparison to the lethal threat of cancer.
Symptoms Of Oral Cancer
Smokeless tobacco contains over 20 carcinogenic chemicals, which can result in cancer of the mouth, tongue, lip, and throat, as well as many other cancers of the body. Warning signs of oral cancer include red or white lesions inside the mouth that won’t heal, usually referred to by dentists as “leukoplakia.” However, not all symptoms are easily detected without the help of your dentist.
Kicking Your Tobacco Problem
Your best bet is to seek professional help to kick your nicotine habit, and prevent long-term and possibly irreversible damage to your health. Although it may be difficult to share your struggles, your dentist can offer guidance and point you to effective treatments. Regular dental care is critical to minimizing your risk for oral cancer and other serious health problems.