Chew, dip, pinch or snuff – no matter what you call it, smokeless tobacco is bad news. The whole look of using smokeless tobacco is bad – from the bulge in the cheek to those brown stained teeth. And smokeless tobacco does more to empty your wallet and trash your looks:
- Using a can of snuff a day can cost up to $1,000 a year!
- Sugars (used to make the tobacco taste better) cause tooth decay.
- Sand and grit in the tobacco act like sandpaper and wear down your teeth.
- Tobacco can irritate your gums, causing them to pull away from your teeth, which not only looks bad, but can also leave you with teeth that hurt anytime you eat or drink something hot or cold.
Then consider the effect smokeless tobacco can have on your body. Just like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, a chemical that causes you to crave tobacco.
Once you are hooked on nicotine, it is very difficult to stop using tobacco products.
Nicotine also increases your heart rate and blood pressure, which can put you at risk for heart disease later in life.
One pinch of tobacco is loaded with other chemicals, too – up to 28 cancer-causing chemicals have been found in smokeless tobacco. These chemicals cause changes in the cells that make up your oral tissues – your gums, the lining of your cheeks and your tongue – changes that could lead to oral cancer.
Signals that you may be laying the groundwork for oral cancer include:
- Any sign or irritation, like tenderness or burning
- A developing sore, usually at the spot where you keep the tobacco
- A leathery, wrinkled or bumpy patch inside your mouth
- White or grayish patches inside your mouth
See your dentist or physician if you notice any of these changes. Don’t let smokeless tobacco (or cigars or cigarettes!) damage your smile or interfere with your life. If you don’t use smokeless tobacco, don’t start. If you are a user, quit. Your dentist can give you tips on how to kick the habit.