Tobacco comes in many different forms. Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless/chewing tobacco, and snuff are the most common ways tobacco is used, and each can have a profound effect on your dental health.
According to the American Cancer Society, smokeless tobacco is less lethal than smoking cigarettes. However, it can still be have deadly effects and have extremely harmful consequences on your overall health and appearance.
Of the few young patients who use smokeless tobacco that we see in our West Caldwell dentist office, most of them started using it while they were playing high school sports. Some wrestlers claim it helps them lose weight before a match, while baseball players often feel it is just natural to do while playing. Whatever the reason, we always stress to our patients that the effects of smokeless tobacco on the teeth, gums, and bone (no matter their age) are not worth the perceived benefits!
Smoking interferes with the ability of gum tissue cells and therefore affects the attachment of bone and gums to your teeth, which can lead to periodontal disease and tooth decay. Sugars are also added to smokeless tobacco to improve its flavor, which may increase the risk of developing cavities as well. Tobacco impairs blood flow to the gums, which inhibits healing and can also stain teeth and cause bad breath. Also, most chewing tobaccos contain higher amounts of nicotine than cigarettes, making it harder to quit the former.
Smokeless tobacco can cause lesions to develop in areas where it is consistently held in the mouth. Verrucous and squamous cell carcinomas are the most common forms of cancer caused by smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco can cause cancers that affect the mouth, tongue, cheek, gums, throat, esophagus, stomach, and pancreas.
If you are trying to quit using tobacco, give our office a call and we will help you start on your way to a happier, healthier life!