How Does Tobacco Affect the Mouth?

Everyone knows that cigarettes and smokeless tobacco contribute to poor health and can lead to cancer. But how does regular use affect the mouth and what can you do to stay healthy?

The Risks

Many factors such as family history, environmental exposure and lifestyle choices contribute to cancer development. Although tobacco use has been linked to cancer development for decades, many people still choose consume these products.

Here are a few issues that can arise from habitual smoking or chewing.

  • Bad breath
  • Inflammation of salivary glands
  • Staining/discoloration of the teeth
  • Reduced bone density leading to loss of the jaw bone
  • Increased build up of tartar and plaque
  • Higher chance of gum disease and tooth loss
  • Cancer of the mouth

What is Cancer of the Mouth?

All cancers originate as a small growth of unhealthy cells that invade healthy tissue of the surrounding area. These cells ignore the typical “stop” response that healthy cells receive from the body. By continuing cell division, the cancerous growth continues to increase in size. The National Cancer Institute offers some great information on the types of cancer and how it grows.

Playing the Odds

Regardless of whether you choose to smoke cigarettes, cigars or a pipe, your chances of developing cancer are relatively the same. No matter your preferred smoking method, a habitual smoker is 6 times more likely than a non-user to develop cancer in their lifetime. As an alternative, many smokers have asked, “Can I give up smoking and chew tobacco without risk?” The answer is a definite, “No!” Individuals who use smokeless tobacco have odds of developing oral cancer that far exceed their smoking counterparts. Studies have shown that chewing tobacco contributes to cancer development 50 times more likely than non-users!

Since mouth cancers often have a high mortality rate due to lack of detection, oral screenings are critical. The good news is that if caught in the early stages of development, oral cancer can be treated. Early detection can help prevent loss of teeth, the tongue or jaw bone.

By knowing the warning signs, you can prevent disaster before your health deteriorates. Remember oral cancer can be fatal!

Look for Symptoms

– Within your mouth, throat or lip area, a cancer cell may appear to be a sore or even a small bump. Be aware of any spots or lumps that do not go away within a short period of time.

– Know how to check yourself. Take a flashlight and peer into your mouth. Move your tongue to view the mouth floor. Don’t forget to look over your hard and soft palates. Even pull your cheeks away from your gums to get a good look.

– If something does not look right, contact your dental office to get a check up.

Screenings are recommended once every three years for adults 20-39, and annually after age 40.

The Good News

Obviously not using tobacco products allows the best chance at avoiding cancer of the mouth. However, there is good news for users who reduce or quit altogether. The odds of developing cancer can almost reduce to that of a non-smoker. By reducing consumption of cigarettes from a pack and half per day to just a half pack can drop the odds to 3 times that of a non-smoker.

Ready to Schedule Your Oral Health Screening with our Cary Dentists?

Due to a common lack of early detection most oral cancer victims are not aware they have the illness. In order to increase the success of any necessary treatments, do not wait to set your exam. Schedule your oral cancer screening with Beavers Caring Family Dentistry today. Call 919-467-0654 or fill out our online contact form!