Chewing tobacco can damage your gums. Known also as snuff or alternately as dip, this smokeless tobacco is used by placing it between the inner lip or the gum. Enjoyed regularly, this can mean it spends prolonged time right against your gums. So what does this do over time?
Health risks associated with chewing tobacco
Chewing tobacco has a number of risks associated with it. Some people believe that because the tobacco is not being smoked that it qualifies as 'natural' and thus safe. Unfortunately , this is not the case. Studies have linked chewing tobacco with a number of conditions. So what does chewing tobacco do to your gums?
- Cancer - Not just oral cancer, either(but we will talk about oral cancer shortly). Chewing tobacco has also been linked to cancer of the larynx, the esophagus, the pharyx, and even breast cancer.
- Gum recession - The constant contact between lip and gum from chewing tobacco abrades the gums and causes your gums to recede. That's right, chewing 'dip' can lead to or exasperate gum disease. This leads to exposed roots, gum line cavities, and worse! Gum loss from chewing tobacco is treatable but it is likely that you will need to stop chewing it. .
- Damaged teeth - Micro amounts of sand and grit in chewing tobacco slowly work to abrade and erode your teeth.
- Increased tooth decay - Sugar is included as part of the curing process for making chewing tobacco. As such, when chewing tobacco you are putting sugar next to your teeth the entire time!
- Nicotine addiction - As addictive as cigarettes, once you start chewing for a small period of time it's going to be difficult to stop.
- Hairy tongue - Sounds yukky already, no? With this condition, overgrown papillae in the tongue trap tobacco particles, resulting in a blackened tongue and bad breath.
Wait, so how do you know if you have oral cancer?
Oral cancer is a serious concern. One of the most deadly forms of cancer, the survival rate after a period of 5 years is only 59%. This is why you should know the signs so that you can get them checked out quickly if any should arise. Early symptoms of oral cancer may include:
- Leukoplakia - This is typically the first sign. It can result in sores on the gums that show as a tough, brown section of gum or a smooth white section.
- Difficult swallowing or chewing food - If accompanied with leukoplakia then you will definitely want to see your Dentist as soon as possible for a checkup.
- Persistent sore throat - Sore throat pain that does not go away could be an early sign of oral cancer as well.
- Sores on the lip, mouth, or gums that do not heal- While the gum sores may be leukoplakia, sores on the lips or mouth can be strong signs as well. Best not to ignore this.
- Numbness in the mouth - A constant numbness of the mouth is another bad sign that you will want to look into.
Can I get bleeding gums from dip?
Yes, indeed. As it recedes the gums and there is mild abrasion, bleeding gums can occur. Will the gums heal after quitting dipping? Quitting the chewing tobacco will definitely help. Mouth and lip sores, for instance, may go away in 2 to 3 weeks. Your gums, no longer exposed constantly to the chewing tobacco will have a better chance of healing as well. Good dental hygiene such as regular brushing and flossing will be in order and a visit to the dentist is a good idea. Your dentist knows all about what chewing tobacco can do and how to heal gums damaged from dipping.
“Oral cancer has a 59% survival rate after 5 years.”
Weaning yourself off of chewing tobacco
So, you are thinking about quitting? Great! This is definitely worth consideration. Your doctor or dentist can prescribe medications that can help you to kick the habit with the least amount of withdrawal symptoms. Highly addictive, nicotine is difficult to kick but the quality of your life will improve immensely without it. Your sense of taste will improve, for one thing. Also, no more nicotine breath! Your wallet will thank you as well, as a nicotine habit can be quite expensive. So, are there some home methods that work as well? We're glad that you asked!
Home methods for kicking nicotine to the curb
Are there ways to kick nicotine without the use of medication? There are quite a few, actually. We've put together a few for your perusal. The most important part is going to be changing your routine. Once you find ways to fill the time that you used to spend chewing tobacco you will be well on your way to a newer, better you!
Home tips to help kick the habit
- Aversion therapy - Start spitting out your chewing tobacco in the same place. A coffee can with a plastic lid that you can take off as you like. After this, when you decide you are quitting, whenever you want some chewing tobacco open the can and smell what is inside. THAT is what you are chewing.
- Chewing gum - Keep chewing gum handy, preferably sugarless, and replace that dip with chewing gum!
- Tea - Find a favorite tea and drink that instead of chewing your tobacco. Some brands can relax and others can invigorate. Focus on finding one you like instead of chewing and before you know it you'll be free!
Chewing tobacco is unhealthy and puts you at risk for a number of things. It is better to kick the habit if you can. As we mentioned before, oral cancer has a 59% survival rate after 5 years. Is that really something that you want to risk? If you still can't bring yourself to quit, consider moderation if you can. Be safe!