Smokeless Tobacco and Oral Cancer

Smokeless tobacco is not a risk-free alternative to cigarettes!

Like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco contains nicotine which can cause serious health risks due to high concentrations of at least 28 cancer causing agents. These agents can cause cancers of the mouth, lip, tongue, esophagus and voice box. Smokeless tobacco may also play a role in heart disease and high blood pressure.

Smokeless tobacco can have a negative impact on your oral health:

  • Tobacco products contain grit and sand that can scratch the teeth and wear away the enamel.
  • Leukoplakia is a condition in which white spots form on the gums, inside of the cheeks and sometimes on the tongue. It is caused by irritation from the tobacco juice and can be pre- cancerous.
  • The sugar in tobacco can cause gums to pull away from the teeth leading to tooth loss, sensitivity and periodontal (gum) disease.
  • Tobacco causes bad breath and discolored teeth

Signs and symptoms that could indicate oral cancer include:

  • A white or red patch in the mouth
  • A sore, an irritation, a lump or thick patch in the mouth, lip or throat
  • A lump or thickening in the cheek that can be felt with the tongue
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing food
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips
  • Swelling of the jaw that can cause dentures to fit poorly

Oral cancer claims the life of more than 8,000 Americans each year. Knowing the signs and symptoms and having routine dental checkups can provide early detection to significantly reduce this number.

If you have any concerns, be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Romano as soon as possible.

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