Tobacco and Oral Health

The use of tobacco products is directly related to a number of health problems and diseases, such as mouth problems including oral cancer.  Oral cancer most often occurs in those who use tobacco in any form and can affect any area of the oral cavity, including the lips, gum tissue, cheek lining, tongue and hard or soft palate.  A few of the other unpleasant oral health problems smokers or smokeless tobacco users can develop are:

bad breath                 brown, stained teeth       loss of senses of smell and taste
black hairy tongue      gum disease                                                                          
loss of teeth               receding gums           

Effects of Tobacco on Oral Health

The nicotine found in cigarettes and in smokeless tobacco is a powerful, addictive drug that is difficult, but not impossible to quit.  All forms of tobacco are harmful and addictive.  There are some 250 known harmful ingredients in tobacco.  Among these are toxins and at least 69 harmful chemicals causing cancer (carcinogens). Some include: 

Arsenic             Cadmium          Chromium      Benzene     Formaldehyde    Nickel                     Toluene            Vinyl chloride     Benzopyrene   Polonium-210(radioactive)            

Is Smokeless Tobacco Safe?

Smokeless tobacco is not a harmless alternative to smoking. It is just as hazardous to your health as cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco (chewing tobacco, spit, chew, dip, snuff/snus) puts 3-4 times more nicotine into your blood stream than a cigarette.  While nicotine is absorbed more slowly from smokeless tobacco, more nicotine per dose is absorbed and stays in the blood stream longer.  Protect your health and avoid all tobacco products.  

Benefits of Quitting

Once you stop using tobacco products, your blood pressure, pulse rate and skin temperature will return to normal within 20 minutes.  Within eight hours, high levels of carbon monoxide in your blood will return to normal and, within a few weeks, your circulation will improve, your sense of taste and smell will improve, and you will have fewer colds and more energy.

Stop before it is too late! 

For information on how to quit tobacco use:
Pennsylvania's Free Quitline, 1-800 QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669), is offered as a partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Health and National Jewish Health.  Based on state-of-the art techniques in smoking cessation, the service provides counseling and structured assistance for individuals who are committed to quitting. 

Oral Health Resources

American Academy of Periodontology, for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease.

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) for Guide for Quitting, posters and links to other government organizations.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Smokeless Tobacco Fact Sheet, video and statistics.

National Spit Tobacco Education Program (NSTEP) geared toward baseball players and families, video and educational materials, Tobacco Free Kids Campaign to "Knock Tobacco Out of the Park."