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Tobacco and Its Oral Side Effects

Tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world. It causes 25 different kinds of disease that include cancer of lungs and mouth, heart disease, tuberculosis, cough and respiratory problems. The effects of tobacco use on general health of users have been well identified but very less people know the effects of smoking on their oral health. The most significant effects of use of tobacco on the oral cavity are as follows:

Oral Cancer: 

One of the most significant effects of tobacco is Oral cancer. The risk of oral cancer increases with the number of cigarettes smoked each day and the number of years that the person has been smoking. Cigarettes are not the only oral habit that can cause oral cancer. All tobacco products such as smokeless/spit tobacco, cigars, and pipes are associated with oral cancer. The type of tobacco product will also dictate where the oral cancer affects in the mouth. For instance, smokeless tobacco causes cancer of the cheek and gums.

Oral cancer can be detected in the early stages. Some signs and symptoms of oral cancer are:
  • swelling, lump, growth or hardness in the mouth or neck. These lumps are usually painless
  • red or white patches in the mouth
  • repeated bleeding from the mouth or throat
  • difficulty in chewing or swallowing

Gum Diseases:

People who smoke or chew tobacco tend to loose more teeth. This is because smokers have higher levels of calculus formation than non-smokers. Calculus deposits make it easier for plaque to stick to teeth and cause gum disease and cavities to form. This causes early tooth loss, bleeding and swollen gums.

Stained Smiles:

Tobacco found in both smoke and smokeless products cause teeth, denture, dental restorations such as filling to stain and become discolored.

Bad Breath:

Tobacco use can also cause persistent bad breath and black hairy tongue. Heavy smoking can cause an overgrowth of the papilla (small hairs) of the tongue surface. This brown, furry growth traps germs and eventually creates a burning sensation on the tongue and exacerbates bad breath. Heavy tobacco use will irritate the tongue and may cause blackish or dark brown stains covering most of the tongue’s surface resulting in a problem referred to as black hairy tongue.

Other Oral Side Effects:

Delayed wound healing, failure of dental treatments, red inflammation on the roof of the mouth (also known as Smoker’s Palate), altered taste are other few side effects of use of tobacco products.

These are some common effects of smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco. When you smoke or chew tobacco you put yourself at risk of side effects that vary from headaches to deadly cancer. Smoking cigarettes can kill you. Consult your dentist in time who will be able to help you diagnose if you have developed any symptoms and also help you quit.

Some Tips To Prevent Oral Cancer and Other Oral diseases:

  • Visit your dentist to check for signs of Oral Cancer and Gum diseases at least once a year.
  • If any sore in a tongue, cheek, lips does not heal after 2 weeks , consult your dentist.

Facts about tobacco

  • According to World Cancer Report 2003, oral cancer is the eleventh most common cancer worldwide. It is also the eight most common cancer world-wide amongst men.
  • According to WHO, there are 4,000 different kinds of chemicals in the tobacco-related things and it is difficult to give up tobacco due these chemicals.
  • Every year 15,000 people die of smoking in Nepal.
  • Every 6.5 seconds a person dies from a tobacco related disease somewhere in the world 

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