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Why should I avoid tobacco?

Many studies have shown that tobacco usage is not good for your overall health. Since tobacco is generally smoked or chewed, your mouth takes the brunt of its adverse effects. The following are just some of the more common oral health issues tobacco users are likely to experience:

  • Oral cancer (and other various types of cancer related to tobacco usage such as lung cancer, etc.)
  • Bad breath (Halitosis)
  • Tooth discoloration (i.e., stained teeth)
  • Increased risk and severity of periodontal (gum) disease
  • Increased plaque and tartar buildup
  • Increased probability and slower healing of mouth sores, especially in users of chewing tobacco
  • Poor blood circulation (nicotine constricts blood vessels)
  • General weakening of your immune system

If you use tobacco, you should seriously consider quitting. The longer you use tobacco products, the more you are at risk of developing serious health problems. Once you stop using tobacco, your risk drops substantially.

Oral Care Tips

There is only one thing to do if you are a tobacco user -- QUIT! We all know that quitting is very difficult, since it is an addiction. Consult your dentist or health care practitioner for advice on how to kick the habit. There are many over-the-counter tobacco cessation products as well as prescription medications available to make quitting easier and more achievable.

  • Over-the-counter products
    • nicotine gum
    • nicotine patch
    • nicotine lozenge
  • Prescription products (consult your medical physician)
    • Zyban®/Wellbutrin® (bupropion)
    • Nicotrol® nasal spray
    • Nicotrol® inhaler

Be sure to visit your dental care provider at regular intervals to keep tobacco-related oral health issues in check. It is very important to identify, slow and/or stop any oral health problems before they become serious or irreversible.

© All Rights Reserved. Last Reviewed August 2005

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