You must be aware that smoking and tobacco is detrimental to your oral health but did you know that smokeless tobacco especially, chewing tobacco is 50 times more likely to cause oral cancer?
Smokeless tobacco consists of snus and other forms of tobacco.
Snus is powdered moist tobacco that you can put inside your bottom lip.
Like every tobacco product, they contain harmful chemicals and carcinogens.
These are nicotine, slaked lime, sugar, flavorings, spices and salt.
These are not only addictive but release harmful toxins that affect your oral health and overall physical health.
In this article, we discuss the effect chewing and smokeless tobacco has on your dental health and why you should quit it.
What Is Smokeless Tobacco?
If you haven’t heard about chewing and smokeless tobacco then you probably know it by other names.
Popular types of smokeless tobacco products are Niswar, Paan Masala, Supari, Khaini, Shammah, Kima, Moist snuff, and Chimo.
These are more common in Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia or East Africa.
However, they usually contain dangerous ash, areca nut, lime, tobacco and nicotine that is assistive and detrimental to your oral health.
Plus since people do not know them by the name of smokeless tobacco, they use it quite often without knowing its health implications.
Which are definitely severe.
It is more probable to cause oral cancer than smoking because it stays in contact with your teeth for longer.
Moreover, it can have other physical health problems.
Nicotine inside the smokeless tobacco results in an increase in cholesterol production.
Furthermore, like smoking, using tobacco in a smokeless form also poses a risk of respiratory diseases related to the lungs.
Women who take it during their pregnancy can give birth to premature babies. Improper habits and neglect during pregnancy can also cause other problems such as syphilis can result in the baby having Hutchinson’s teeth.
There is a risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and dementia later in life.
Additionally, you are at risk of getting pancreatic cancer.
Smoke cigarettes and spitting tobacco pose a risk to public health.
Furthermore, smokeless products contain two times the amount of nicotine than in a cigarette.
Hence, it is rather unhealthier as it constricts the blood vessels and raises your blood pressure.
Therefore, by any means, smokeless products are not harmless because they do not release any smoke.
In fact, they are worse.
60 cigarettes release the same amount of nicotine inside your body as much as 1 can of smokeless tobacco.
Thus, you should take steps to stop using it.
But first, let’s out how it affects your oral health.
Chewing Tobacco and Oral Health
If you usually keep snus on the side your mouth then you are probably ignoring your oral health.
The more they are in contact with your teeth, the higher is the chance of getting oral health diseases.
Moreover, if you do not take care of your oral hygiene then you are letting the bacteria prevail.
You can detect the early stages of gingivitis because of gingival bleeding.
However, nicotine tightens blood vessels as a result there is less bleeding when your brush probes the gums.
Hence, it can give a false impression whereas the gingivitis is worsening underneath to become gum disease.
People who constantly chew tobacco or use snus and place it in their mouth in the packaged form are at risk of periodontal disease and tooth loss.
Gingival recession is common in people who place snus in one place.
The gums adjacent to the placement site of the snus are at high risk.
The constant contact with tobacco and the release of harmful toxins are responsible for receding gums.
Hence, they expose the tooth’s root and tooth when there is a higher occurrence of the recession of surrounding gums.
There are sugars and flavorings in tobacco products.
If you choose one with fermentable carbohydrates then you are putting the placement site at risk.
The sugars or carbs will become a breeding ground for the bacteria.
As it is in direct contact with the teeth then there is a higher chance of getting tooth decay and caries on those teeth.
A cavity can result when the bacteria enter the tooth structure and form holes inside your teeth.
You will need tooth fillings and other dental procedures such as a crown to restore your tooth.
However, the main health concern is mouth cancer.
Chewing Tobacco Causing Oral Cancer
Tobacco has several carcinogens which can ultimately result in oral cancer.
Since you are putting these toxins and harmful chemicals right inside your mouth, you are as much as four times more probable of getting oral cancer.
The main ingredient in smokeless tobacco is betel nut.
Chewing betel nut puts you at risk of cancer of the mouth, pharynx, stomach, esophagus and pancreas.
Furthermore, swallowing tobacco juice by placing it in your mouth can cause throat cancer.
In fact, lip and cheek cancers are likely too as you press the smokeless material in between your lips and cheeks along the lining of the mouth.
It can appear as leukoplakia that turns into oral cancers.
However, if you keep using it then the leukoplakia thickens and becomes whiter.
Without prompt treatment, it can result in a type of squamous cell carcinoma i.e. a cancerous cell.
It is called verrucous carcinoma.
However, if you give up it in time, then you can regain your health and the lesions can disappear.
Normal mucosa will return as long as you quit timely.
These lesions are initially painless mouth ulcers that may not heal properly on their own when you keep taking the tobacco.
Or other signs of oral cancer are red or white patches inside your mouth as well as the presence of lumps and swellings.
Hence, as long as you do not give up on this harmful substance your oral health is in danger.
Mouth cancer is the worst problem however, there are others too that will slowly decline your dental health.
While cigarettes pose a risk too, it is actually worse to use smokeless tobacco because of direct contact with teeth and lining of the mouth.
Cessation is a solution to these problems.
But how do you go about it?
Quitting the Use of Chewing Tobacco
Just like smoking, you should quit other tobacco products as well.
You will notice a drastic change in your oral health and physical well-being as soon as you quit.
Firstly, your appetite will improve and so will your digestive system.
Then your teeth and gums will start to heal returning to normal mucosa.
Also, you no longer will be at risk of heart disease, stroke or oral cancer.
However, it surely isn’t easy to give up on addiction.
The first step in tobacco and smoking cessation is to find out why you do it in the first place.
For instance, you may use smokeless tobacco when you are:
- have pain in teeth and gums
- use it to aid digestion
There are healthier ways to cope with these problems.
You can reduce stress by exercising and walking regularly.
Engage in your hobbies and interests and practice deep breathing.
Also, try interacting with people in your community as that can help relieve stress as well as boredom.
If you have pain in your teeth and gums then you should certainly not put snus at that place to press on it.
Rather it can be the cause behind the pain.
Hence, you should only go to a dentist to heal and treat your tooth pain.
Additionally, quitting tobacco helps in digestion not taking it.
Consult a gastroenterologist if you have digestive issues otherwise try drinking more water rather than relying on tobacco.
It will be even more difficult to quit smokeless tobacco than it is to quit smoking.
This is because it usually contains a higher amount of nicotine.
Typical withdrawal symptoms include:
- getting moody
- fatigue and tiredness
- difficulty concentrating
It is nicotine that causes such symptoms.
Hence, you can find alternatives such as nicotine gum or patches that act as nicotine replacement therapy.
You can also seek help from a stop smoking center or your doctor.
Remember that even if the symptoms can be bothersome, the consequences of keep using tobacco are worse.
Hence, it is better to quit earlier than later.
Other Oral Health Concerns
Smoking also has serious consequences on oral health.
For instance, it can discolor your teeth for which you may require teeth whitening.
Moreover, it can also cause mouth cancer and periodontal disease.
Smoking and smokeless tobacco both result in bad breath.
Substances such as nicotine and tar are responsible for that when you smoke or put a piece of chew in between your cheek and gum.
This results in a rise of bacteria.
Moreover, as smoking dries the mouth, there isn’t enough saliva to remove the bacteria either.
These substances linger on for long so does the bad breath.
The main culprit is tobacco that you should work on quitting.
You can choose nicotine replacement therapy to deal with the withdrawal but you should quit those alternatives soon too.
If you can give up on chewing tobacco then you will see a considerable difference in your oral health and well-being.
Quitting in time saves you from detrimental health risks and consequences.
Moreover, it can improve your quality of life.
Therefore, if you are planning to quit, now is the right time.