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Dangers of Smokeless Tobacco

October 23rd, 2010

Happily, with the increased awareness of smoking related diseases, more and more people have successfully given up smoking.  Unfortunately, however, some of these former smokers have become tobacco chewers, a habit which can be just as harmful to the oral tissues as smoking is to the heart and lungs.  According to recent research, prolonged or excessive use of smokeless tobacco can cause severe damage to the gum tissue and bone which support your teeth. If  the habit continues, and the situation is left untreated, tooth loosening and eventual tooth loss can occur.  Tobacco chewing can also lead to bad breath, an inability to properly taste your food, and unpleasant  tooth staining or discoloration.

Another more serious condition often found in the mouths of tobacco chewers is known as “hyperkeratosis,” the formation of callous-like white patches on the inner cheeks, gums, or lips.  This usually occurs in the area where the tobacco is placed inside the mouth, sometimes called the “snuff pouch.”  These hyperkeratotic areas can become ulcerated and infected, but more seriously, can lead to the development of oral cancer.   If detected early, oral cancer can be successfully treated, but if ignored and not diagnosed, it can rapidly grow and spread, leading to massive destruction of oral tissue, sickness, and untimely demise.  So please see your dentist on a regular basis for proper examination, since the problems associated smokeless tobacco, if they do indeed develop, need timely recognition and early treatment.

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