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Chew, spit tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, chaw, dip, and plug are just a few of the names for smokeless tobacco. Just because it’s smokeless doesn’t mean that it’s harmless.
Although it isn’t smoked and inhaled, chewing tobacco still has serious consequences for your oral health. From loose teeth to cancer, chew can wreak havoc on your body from your mouth down.
It may have become less popular over the last few decades for a number of reasons, but many chewers are still going strong. When the short and long-term effects are considered, it may become much easier to kick the habit for good.
Short-Term Effects of Chewing Tobacco
While any type of tobacco is bad for your teeth, there are some unique short term effects of chewing tobacco. Some of these include:
- Bad breath
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Excess saliva (problems with drooling)
- Stained or yellow teeth
- Your clothes can become stained
- Nicotine addiction
- Receding gums
- Gum loss
- Teeth become sensitive
- Risk of tooth decay
- Sores and white patches in your mouth
These are the effects that can occur after just a short period of usage. Most of these issues (aside from staining and gum issues) can be stopped if you stop using chew. However, many people have a hard time with this due to the addictive qualities of nicotine.
Long-Term Effects of Chewing Tobacco
For those who can’t kick the habit, there are other serious side effects.
- Cancer of the mouth, tongue, cheek, gums, esophagus, stomach, pancreas and throat.
- Increased risk of heart disease, heart attacks and stroke
- Bone loss surrounding the roots of teeth
- Loss of teeth
As with most harmful substances, the longer you use chew, the more severe the side effects will be.
Quitting Now Makes All the Difference
As you can see there are many health reasons to quit chewing tobacco, but those aren’t the only cause to spit out the dip. By kicking this habit your appearance will change instantly and dramatically. Imagine how your face will look without the noticeable lump inside your bottom lip, and the sores and white patches inside your mouth will quickly disappear. Your teeth will become whiter over time, and your gums will appear cleaner without the unsightly tobacco stains.
It’s not only your looks that will take a positive turn, your wallet will feel it too. Heavy chewers can expect to save up to $1,100 a year when the habit is broken, which will allow more money to be spent on the fun stuff, including dinner. Which, as a bonus, will taste much better once you kick the can. But, you may wonder how hard it is to quit.
Quitting Won’t Be Easy, But It Is Possible
Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and it can be a difficult feat to quit, but it’s not impossible. When you’re ready to move past this part of your life, it’s important to put a plan into place, set a quit date and lean on your support system. Expect cravings when you’re quitting, but don’t give in. The following tips will help immensely when you’re feeling the urge.
- Change pace: When the craving hits, stop what you’re doing and do something else. This change of routine will help retrain your mind.
- Distract your mouth: Stock up on sugar-free gum to keep your mouth busy throughout the day. Drinking plenty of water will also keep your body replenished and distracted.
- Move around: Bust out a few jumping jacks, stroll around the block or jog up the stairs. Exercise isn’t just good for you, it will also kick those endorphins into overdrive helping distract from nasty cravings.
- Just breathe: Taking deep breaths will help you relax and take your mind off the urges to chew.
Can You Reverse the Effects of Chewing Tobacco?
You won’t be able to completely reverse the harm that has been caused by using chewing tobacco, but the sooner you quit the less damage will be done. Even if you’re a long-term chew user, never fear, there are ways to restore your smile and teeth functionality. Procedures like dental implants can help with tooth loss, and whitening can restore enamel to its original luster.
Speaking with your dentist about your smokeless tobacco habit is a good place to start when developing a plan to quit. Schedule an appointment with Friendly Dentistry today and strive toward better oral health!