Cigarette sales have decreased in the past decade, and at Mason Dental in Grapevine, we won’t kid you: we’re happy about that. But some people have switched to smokeless products, on the misconception that smokeless tobacco is harmless.
This is absolutely not true. Regardless of the specific type, this form of tobacco is as deadly as cigarettes.
We encounter the consequences of smokeless tobacco use because many occur in the mouth. Oral cancer, mouth lesions, gum disease and tooth decay are the most common dental problems caused by smokeless tobacco.
Keeping a pinch between your cheek and gum all day is a bad idea, period. The dangers are two-fold: the tobacco erodes the teeth and also causes the gums to pull away from teeth.
- Precancerous Mouth Lesion Screening: Mouth lesions are painful sores that could eventually become cancer. If smokeless tobacco use is stopped, the lesions ordinarily disappear within a year.
- Oral Cancer: Smokeless tobacco increases the risk for several types of life-threatening cancers including those of the mouth, gums, lips, tongue, and throat.
Oral cancers can be as deadly as lung cancer and usually require surgery. Even if someone has the cancer successfully removed, the collateral damage to the face, neck, or jaw is not pretty.
These are the main dental risks of smokeless tobacco. In addition, there are two other biggies: addiction and heart disease, though those are topics for another day.