All forms of tobacco products are known to have multiple detrimental effects on one’s oral cavity, including altering a person’s appearance, damaging the effect of dental implants, increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease, and contributing to oral cancer. So no, chewing tobacco is not any safer than its smoked form.
Research suggests that smokeless tobacco users are at an increased risk of getting cancers, compared to tobacco smokers, because most cancers arise within the oral cavity itself, with the most common places being the tongue, the gingival or gums, floor of the mouth, lip, and salivary gland, in that order. There are two primary types of smokeless tobacco: sinus and chewing tobacco.
Chewing tobacco is mostly found in the form of plugs or leaves that you put in your mouth and chew as you push it towards the inside of your cheek to release nicotine and the flavors. This tobacco contains a mixture of nicotine, sugar, spices, slaked lime, and flavorings. It is very addictive, because more nicotine is absorbed in the bloodstream (also stays longer) compared to smoked tobacco. Chewing tobacco causes you to produce a lot of saliva, hence its reference as spitting tobacco.
Research shows that chewing tobacco contains over 28 cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens), including the tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), arsenic, acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, benzopyrene, cadmium, and nickel.
Chewing Tobacco Risks
Chewing tobacco may release numerous chemicals and poisons that result in serious health problems, including:
- Increased risk of cancer of the oral cavity, esophagus, pancreas, pharynx, and stomach, as well as throat cancer, because users have to swallow tobacco juice regularly
- Multiple oral health conditions, because users have to hold it in one area of the mouth for extended periods. For instance, chewing tobacco can cause gums to recede, uncovering the roots of your teeth. It also increases the amount of bacteria in the mouth and releases acids and sugars that harm tooth enamel, making you more likely to have tooth decay.
- Bad breath and tooth staining
- Leukoplakia – whitish patches in your mouth that may lead to cancer
- Increased absorption of cholesterol by the body, making you more prone to heart disease and strokes
- Health problems associated with gum disease, like dementia, typep-2 diabetes, premature birth, and respiratory or lung disease
To greatly improve your oral health and prevent further damage, you should make a conscious effort to quit chewing tobacco, as well as any other kind of tobacco. Your Los Angeles dentists can help you stop the destructive habit. Just ask us during your next appointment!