smokeless tobacco

Spit Tobacco Healthier than Cigarettes? Think Again.

November 30th, 2015

Ever hear people say, “I brush and floss more than twice per day, and my mouth is totally healthy!” as a way to justify using smokeless tobacco? People commonly believe having good oral hygiene will counter act the effects of tobacco. However, this belief is very inaccurate. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, a government agency dealing with oral health, "there is no evidence that brushing and flossing will undo the harm that dip and chew are doing to your teeth and gums."

Smokeless tobacco comes in different forms. “Snuff” is a powder form of spit tobacco. Most commonly used is “chew” tobacco. This comes in a leaf form, and can be loose, twisted, dry, or moist. Either way, it’s still tobacco.

“Smokeless tobacco” is a term that the tobacco industry prefers to use instead of “spit tobacco”. The name creates and instills the idea that spit tobacco is less harmful than smoking cigarettes. This lures consumers into buying spit tobacco. DON’T FALL FOR IT. Spit tobacco can have dramatic effects on dental and overall health.

Here are just some of things spit tobacco can lead to.

  • Cancer of the mouth

The U.S. Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, M.D., in 1986 declared that "smokeless tobacco represents a significant health risk. It is not a safe substitute for smoking cigarettes. It can cause cancer…" Since those that chew or dip leave the tobacco in their mouth for extended periods of time, usually in the same place, this can cause the gums to pull away from the tooth in that area. When the gums pull away from the tooth, sensitive tooth roots are exposed providing an access to the root for any number of problems; sensitivity, decay and infection just to name a few.

  • Sugar

Another of those problems is the side effect of the sugar contained in spit tobacco.  The longer sugar remains in the mouth the more damage it will do. The extended periods that spit tobacco remains in the mouth provide a perfect opportunity for the sugars to work on the tooth root, causing massive tooth decay. Many sports figures, as positive influences to youth, are speaking out against spit tobacco. Torii Hunter, Minnesota Twins American League winner of the Gold Glove award, six years in a row has come out strong against spit tobacco. Olympic gold medal winners, Picabo Street (alpine skiing) and Dominique Dawes (gymnastics) have lent the weight of their names to the campaign against spit tobacco along with the mega-star Jackie Chan.

If you use spit tobacco and want to quit, check out this “Quitting Guide” from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

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