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How ‘Safe’ is Smokeless Tobacco?

Posted on January 21st, 2014

Smokeless Tobacco, also known as Chewing Tobacco, comes in a couple of different forms.  Leaves formed into a brick, or twist, is sold as ‘Chewing Tobacco’.  A finer, ground version is often referred to as ‘Snuff’. What are the many risks of using chewing tobacco?

Do you think that because it isn’t lit or inhaled it is safer than cigarettes?  Think again.  All tobacco contains dangerous chemicals which are proven to cause cancer. In fact, over 28 chemicals known to cause cancer are found in cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.  These chemicals absorb through your mucous membranes into your bloodstream.  In the case of ‘smokeless tobacco’, they also stay on your gums and teeth, spread by your saliva quickly to reach all areas of your mouth.

It also contains Nicotine, which is highly addictive.  An average sized portion or ‘dip’ contains the same amount of Nicotine as three cigarettes.The Many Risks of Using Chewing Tobacco

If you have oral cancer, treatment may include surgery (to be blunt, surgery means cutting away portions of your face that are affected – an extremely disfiguring procedure), chemotherapy, and possibly radiation.

Both cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco cause gum disease and tooth loss.    Here are the facts:

  • Tobacco use causes your gums to pull away from your teeth, exposing the roots. This can eventually lead to tooth loss.  Receding gums can never grow back to normal.
  • Your gums need good blood flow to remain healthy.  Tobacco severely reduces blood flow to vital areas of your mouth.
  • You may suffer from cracked, bleeding lips and gums.
  • Manufacturers of smokeless tobacco use significant amounts of sugar in their product to improve the flavor.  This sugar stays on your teeth and gums, exponentially increasing your chance of developing tooth decay.
  • Your cheeks and lips may develop sores and white patches.
  • Users of tobacco have a far greater chance for needing root canal treatment.
  • If you need oral surgery and use tobacco, your healing time will be far longer.
  • Chewing tobacco also contains grit and sand, which will scratch your teeth and wear off the enamel over time.

If you are young, you may think ‘this will never happen to me’.  If you use smokeless tobacco, you can be assured the following will occur, and relatively quickly:

  • Your teeth will be stained yellow-brown. Brushing your teeth will do nothing to remove the stains.  Although your dentist can remove most stains, the longer you use smokeless tobacco, the more difficult it becomes.
  • You will develop terrible breath.  Who wants to kiss someone with brown, foul-smelling saliva?
  • Sores and white patches form fairly quickly where the tobacco is held in the mouth.  These are considered ‘pre-cancerous’.
  • Your sense of taste and smell will diminish.  You may wonder why that cheeseburger just doesn’t taste like it used to.  You also may not be as aware as you used to be when you need a shower.

Do you need more convincing?  Pictures can be revealing.  Search ‘effects of smokeless tobacco’ in Google Images and take a look at the pictures.  There are a number of relatively young people featured here. What are the many risks of using chewing tobacco and how might they affect you? Looking at these images might be very revealing.

Would you like to quit?  Here are links to a couple of sites that offer practical information and assistance: ,

The Many Risks of Using Chewing Tobacco

If you have tobacco stains on your teeth and want help to remove them, contact your dentist, who can recommend a bleaching or whitening procedure.  Then, think about your teeth.  You will need to eat for the rest of your life in order to stay alive.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have teeth with which to chew that food?


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