A common misconception about tobacco products is that smokeless tobacco is much safer to use than products like cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, since there is no inhaling taking place. Although the risk for lung cancer may be reduced, the likelihood to develop oral cancer and precancerous tissues is greatly increased. Areas in the mouth that appear unlike other tissues around them or on the other side of the mouth are red flags for precancerous tissue. Raised, red, or white patches especially. If there are sores or patches in the mouth that do not heal within 10-14 days, then a biopsy may be needed to make sure the tissue is not cancerous.
Smokeless tobacco products also cause tissue irritation that can result in severe gum recession, compromising the health and stability of the affected teeth. This is due to small glass particles in the dip, causing chronic irritation to sensitive gum tissue. Irritants are necessary in order for nicotine to enter into the body. Moving the dip tobacco around can minimize the irritation on specific teeth, but it does not get rid of it altogether.
Oral cancer screenings are an important part of your routine dental check-up every 6 months. Your dentist will check for abnormal and precancerous tissues in areas throughout the mouth, even if you’re not aware that he or she is looking for them. Common sites include the border of the lower lip, the sides of the tongue, and the floor of the mouth. If you haven’t had a dental check-up lately, and you use tobacco products like snuff, then schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience. It may just save your life.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Hamir Contractor, Kennesaw Mountain Dental Associates
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