Helpful Advice from a Hutchinson Dentist
If you have used tobacco products at any point in your life, you have probably asked yourself one or more of the following questions about how it affects your teeth and your health. Hutchinson dentist Grant Ringler has compiled the following information so that you can make educated decisions about your dental health.
Is tobacco harmful to my mouth?
Because tobacco contains a variety of substances that are cytotoxic (destructive to the body’s cells and tissues), the use of tobacco in any form will affect your dental health and the rest of your body. Those who smoke tobacco regularly have more hardened dental plaque, or calculus, than nonsmokers. A symptom called vasoconstriction which involves the narrowing of the blood vessels is also caused by the nicotine in tobacco. Blood circulation in the mouth can decrease by as much as 70% in those who smoke or chew tobacco regularly. Recent studies have also showed that second-hand tobacco smoke can cause periodontal disease.
Is chewing tobacco safer than smoking?
Chewing tobacco, also call spit tobacco, includes a finely ground version of processed tobacco called snuff. Snuff comes in the form of shredded or pressed cakes or bricks that are called plugs, or in the form of rope-like strands called twists. Many young people believe that chewing tobacco is safer than smoking tobacco, but chewing tobacco releases a variety of chemicals into the body and can lead to mouth sores, bleeding lips and gums, and even cancer of the throat, gums or mouth. Chewing tobacco also contains higher levels of nicotine, and one can of snuff is estimated to deliver as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes.
What do I do about mouth sores?
White scaly patches or lesions inside of the mouth or lip are the most common indicators of possible cancer. These patches and lesions are common among many spit tobacco users, and red sores can also be a warning sign of cancer. It is estimated that approximately 8,000 people die every year from various types of tobacco use, and 70% of these deaths are from oral cancer. Compared with nonsmokers, regular cigar smokers are four to 10 times more likely to die from oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and laryngeal cancer.
Sometimes, signs of pre-cancerous lesions are not detectable. This is one of the primary reasons for why you should receive regular checkups from your dentist. Your dentist can diagnose and treat these cases before the condition develops into oral cancer. Double dippers, those who mix chewing tobacco and snuff, are more likely to develop these pre-cancerous lesions than those who only use one type of spit.
How can I kick the habit?
When you come to our office for help with kicking your tobacco habit, Dr. Ringler may prescribe a variety of nicotine replacement therapies to wean you off of your nicotine addiction. Dr. Ringler and his caring team will also clean your teeth and help with any puffy, swollen gums that are typically associated with tobacco use. To learn more about tobacco use and your dental health, call Grant D. Ringler, DDS today and schedule an appointment!