Chewing vs. Smoking: Which is Better for Your Oral Health?
If you’re considering a switch from cigarettes to a smokeless tobacco, like chew or snuff, you may have heard that chewing tobacco is less harmful than smoking.
According to the American Cancer Society, chewing tobacco is less lethal than cigarettes, but that doesn’t make them any safer. Smokeless tobacco products also cause cancer, and they can profoundly affect your oral health.
There are at least 28 chemicals in smokeless tobacco that researchers have determined cause cancer. The juice from chew or snuff can cause mouth sores, which can develop into oral cancer. Chewing also can cause other forms of cancer, including throat, esophagus, stomach and pancreas. It can also play a role in high blood pressure and heart disease.
People who regularly chew also struggle with poor oral health. Chewing can cause bad breath and discolored teeth. Since sugar additives are often used to enhance the flavor and pleasure of chewing tobacco, the user can develop more cavities or suffer from tooth decay, causing sensitivity and erosion.
While some people may believe that chewing helped them quit smoking, there is no medical evidence that can prove this theory is true.
In many cases, dentists are the medical professionals who most often detect pre-cancerous lesions that can develop into cancer during routine dental exams. Dentists also have the ability to prescribe nicotine patches or other nicotine replacement therapies to help their patients quit nicotine, whether they smoke or chew.
If it’s been years since you’ve been seated in a dental chair and you smoke or chew, it’s time to consider making an appointment. If you don’t have dental insurance or have put off a dental visit, there are low-cost dental care alternatives.
AmeriPlan discount dental plans are affordable, easy-to-use and can save you up to 80 percent off many common dental procedures.