Tobacco Use

Smoking and chewing tobacco pose a serious threat to your oral health

The health risks of tobacco use are well documented, but did you know that smoking and chewing tobacco also cause a variety of serious dental problems? These include:

  • Oral cancer
  • Increased risk of gum disease
  • Reduced sense of taste
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Weakened ability to recover after oral surgery
  • Stained teeth

For these reasons, Dr. Webb, along with the American Dental Association and the vast majority of pediatric dentists, strongly recommend that people of all ages refrain from using tobacco in any form.

Because the majority of adult tobacco users first tried it before the age of 19, it is important to properly educate and discourage children from tobacco use.

Know the warning signs of oral cancer

Oral cancer symptoms are often subtle and go unnoticed until the cancer becomes more serious. This is a problem because patients are most likely to survive oral cancer if it is caught and treated as early as possible. Dentists are trained to detect the warning signs, but there are indicators you should watch out for, especially if you or a loved one uses tobacco:

  • Sores that heal slowly or not at all
  • Red or white spots on the cheeks, lips or tongue
  • Numbness or sensitivity
  • Difficulty moving the jaw
  • Changes in the way the teeth fit together

Smokeless tobacco is just as dangerous

Many adults and teenagers see smokeless tobacco as a safer alternative to cigarettes and cigars. While it’s true that the lungs are not as impacted by smokeless tobacco, scientists have proven that chewing tobacco delivers a far greater concentration of cancer-causing agents into your mouth and body — and is far more addictive. In fact, a single snuff of tobacco can contain as much as 60 times the amount of nicotine as one cigarette.

One result of smokeless tobacco use is leukoplakias, or pre-cancerous lesions.

Preventing or stopping tobacco use

Education is the first step toward preventing or curtailing the use of tobacco. If you or your child doesn’t see the need for stopping, just ask Dr. Webb to explain the dangers of tobacco use.

Dr. Webb is serious about preventing and treating the oral damage caused by tobacco use. Regular dental checkups are important for all patients, but particularly for smokers. Treating oral cancer and other diseases as early as possible is vital to surviving them.

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