Smokeless tobacco, dip, or snuff can cause a few different side effects in your mouth that your dentist will want to monitor at your check-ups. Staining and oral cancer are a couple of examples, but another one is gum recession.
Gum recession is when gum tissues creep further down the roots of the tooth, exposing the length of the tooth to external elements. The reason why recession is a problem is that it can cause tooth sensitivity as well as make the tooth lose supportive structures on one side. In some cases, the recession caused by smokeless tobacco may be so severe that the entire length of the tooth is exposed and the tooth could fall out of the mouth.
How can you tell if you have gum recession? Gum tissues should appear even throughout the mouth, and come all the way up to the white crown portion of the tooth. If yellow root surfaces are exposed, then gum recession has occurred.
What does smokeless tobacco have to do with gum recession? Well, the nicotine inside of the tobacco needs a way to get into your body. To do this, tobacco manufacturers place small glass particles into the smokeless tobacco. This mild irritating capability allows the nicotine to be absorbed, but it also damages the soft mucosal tissues.
If you use smokeless tobacco, be sure to have your dentist check the areas where you hold the snuff during the day. These “pouch” areas are at an increased risk of developing precancerous tissue and gum recession. You should have an examination and oral cancer screening at least every 6 months to monitor changes or progress in conditions such as these.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Eberhard, Mockingbird Dental Associates
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