Do you smoke cigarettes or cigars, or chew tobacco? If so, you are putting not only your overall health at risk, but also the health of your mouth, teeth and gums.
Smoking cigarettes can have many adverse effects on your oral and dental health, including:
Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes. Even if you do not inhale cigar smoke, you are still at risk for oral and throat cancers. And like cigarette smokers, cigar smokers are at increased risk for periodontal disease, staining of the teeth and tongue, and bad breath. Like cigarettes and cigars, smokeless tobacco products contain a variety of toxins associated with cancer. Smokeless tobacco is known to cause cancers of the mouth, lip, tongue and pancreas. Users may also be at risk for cancer of the voice box, esophagus, colon and bladder, because they swallow some of the toxins in the juice created by the use of smokeless tobacco.
Smokeless tobacco can irritate gum tissue, causing periodontal disease. Sugar is often added to enhance the flavor of smokeless tobacco, thus increasing the risk of tooth decay. Smokeless tobacco also typically contains sand and grit, which can wear down the teeth.
If you are a tobacco user, there's no time like the present to quit. There are a number of strategies than can increase your chances of success, including enlisting the support of family, friends and co-workers, consulting with your dentist or physician about nicotine replacement therapy, and seeking tobacco-free environments to curb your temptations. For more help, call 1-800-QUITNOW or go to www.smokefree.gov.
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