March 14, 2017
You started chewing tobacco around the time you were in high school. It quickly became a part of your personality. At some point, you developed a bad sore throat and thought, “Oh my God, please don’t let this be cancer.” You decided to quit for the first time. After your throat got better, one stressor lead to another and you bought another tin. Sounds too familiar, right? Ultimately, you resigned to your addiction and justified it with, “It’s my only bad habit.” Your Hutchinson dentist understands how difficult it can be to quit smokeless tobacco, we run into patients that use it all the time! However, that does not make it any better for either your general or oral health. If you think that going smokeless is better for you, think again.
How does smokeless tobacco affect your health?
When you stick a glob of smokeless tobacco in the side of your cheek, think about what it’ doing to your mouth and teeth. All the chemicals that make “chew” so addictive are being absorbed through your gum tissue, cheeks, and throat. This causes irritation that makes your gums more prone to gum disease. You can also expect to see the recession of your gums over time, making yourself prone to tooth decay. The factors that make smokeless tobacco favorable to you—the grittiness and sweetness—are from the large amounts of sugar that cause tooth decay and literal sand, which wear down your teeth. Chewing smokeless tobacco is also bad for your oral health because:
- It eats away at your gums, causing bone loss and recession.
- It increases your risk for gum disease and tooth decay.
- It leaves white and red lesions in the mouth that can turn to cancer.
- It causes chronic bad breath.
- It yellows your teeth.
- It dulls your sense of taste.
- It slows your mouth’s natural healing process, especially after an oral surgery procedure.
Not to mention, tobacco affects your overall health as well! As a smokeless tobacco user, you are putting yourself at risk for severe health problems like heart disease and cancer in other areas of your body, as if mouth cancer wasn’t scary enough! Statistics show that fewer people are killed by smokeless tobacco on average compared to tobacco smokers, but can you imagine losing a part of your mouth, jaw, face, neck, or ability to speak due to tobacco use?
How can the office of Dr. Grant D. Ringler help me?
Did you know that patients who use smokeless tobacco are 50 times more likely to develop oral cancer, especially in the areas that you chew? There’s no way to just simply brush or floss a statistic like that away! The best thing for your general and oral health is to quit using the product altogether. It’s not easy due to the nicotine found in tobacco products, but Dr. Ringler and the rest of the dental professionals in our practice are here to help make your health a priority over those addictive moments.
Even if you are having a hard time quitting, it is important to visit your dentist for regular checkups even before you think there may be anything wrong. Preventive care including oral cancer screenings are necessary to staying on top of your oral health. Most times, when you actually start feeling pain from your tobacco use, a serious health problem has already settled. Either Dr. Ringler, Dr. Melissa Barnhart, or Dr. Justin Barnhart can spot signs or infection and disease early and develop a plan to get your oral health back on track. Contact us today to make your first judgement-free appointment and oral cancer screening!
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