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Fifth Grade~Tobacco (Smokeless & Cigarettes), Mouthguards, Gum Disease & Therapy
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Spit Tobacco

Spit tobacco affects your dental health as well as the rest of your body. If you use smokeless tobacco and have thought about quitting, your dentist can help. In the meantime, here are a few facts that may help you decide to join the 200 million Americans who are tobacco-free.

Spit tobacco includes snuff, a finely ground version of processed tobacco, and chewing tobacco in the form of shredded or pressed bricks and cakes, called plugs, or rope-like strands called twists. Users "pinch" or "dip" tobacco and place a wad in their cheek or between their lower lip and gums. In the United Kingdom, users often snort snuff.

Some wrongly believe that spit tobacco is safer than smoking cigarettes. But spit tobacco is more addictive because it contains higher levels of addictive nicotine than cigarettes and can be harder to quit than cigarettes. One can of snuff delivers as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes.

About 8,000 people die every year from tobacco use. About 70 percent of those deaths are from oral cancer. Other cancers caused by tobacco include cancer of the pancreas, nasal cavity, urinary tract, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, intestines and the stomach. Kids who use spit tobacco products are 4 to 6 times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-users and tobacco juice-related cancers can form within five years of regular use. Among high school seniors who have ever used spit tobacco, almost three- fourths began by the ninth grade.

How does snuff and chewing tobacco harm my dental health?

It causes bad breath, discolors teeth and promotes tooth decay that leads to tooth loss. Spit tobacco users have a decreased sense of smell and taste, and they are at greater risk of developing cavities. The grit in snuff eats away at gums, exposing tooth roots which are sensitive to hot and cold temperatures and can be painful. Sugar in spit tobacco causes decay. Spit tobacco users also have a hard time getting their teeth clean.

What about mouth sores?

The most common sign of possible cancer in smokeless tobacco users is leukoplakia, (loo-ko-play-key-ah) a white scaly patch or lesion inside the mouth or lips, common among many spit tobacco users. Red sores are also a warning sign of cancer. Often, signs of precancerous lesions are undetectable. Dentists can diagnose and treat such cases before the condition develops into oral cancer. If a white or red sore appears and doesn't heal, see your dentist immediately for a test to see if it's precancerous. Spit tobacco users also should see their dentist every three months, to make sure a problem doesn't develop. Studies have found that 60 to 78 percent of spit tobacco users have oral lesions.

What are double dippers?

Double dippers, who mix snuff and chewing tobacco, are more likely to develop precancerous lesions than those who use only one type of spit tobacco. Long-term snuff users have a 50 percent greater risk of developing oral cancer than non-users, and spit tobacco users are more likely to become cigarette smokers.

How do you kick the habit?

Your dentist can help you kick your spit tobacco habit. In addition to cleaning teeth and treating bad breath and puffy, swollen gums associated with tobacco use, your dentist may prescribe a variety of nicotine replacement therapies, such as the transdermal nicotine patch or chewing gum that helps to wean addicted snuff dippers or tobacco chewers.

Make goals

Make the following goals to quit and never resume chewing or dipping:

  • Pick a date and taper use as the date nears. Instead of using spit tobacco, carry substitutes like gum, hard candy and sunflower seeds.

  • Cut back on when and where you dip and chew. Let friends and family know that you're quitting and solicit their support. If they dip and chew, ask them not to do it around you.

  • Make a list of three situations you're most likely to dip and chew, and make every effort to avoid using tobacco at those times.

  • Switch to a lower nicotine brand to help cut down your dose.


Most of us have experienced the "weekend warrior" syndrome, where you think your body is invincible to injury and that you do not need protective gear such as helmets for your head and pads for your knees, shins and elbows. In particular, teeth are often forgotten. Although the dental profession unanimously supports the use of mouthguards in a variety of athletic and recreational activities, consumers remain resistant to and ill-informed of the importance and advantages of wearing a mouthguard during their weekend activities.There are three reasons most people don't wear mouthguards: cost, the 'headache factor' and image.What people fail to realize is how many serious injuries such as concussions, jaw fractures and neck injuries are prevented by mouthguards

It is estimated that mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 injuries each year. Although orofacial injuries are traditionally associated with contact sports such as football and hockey, recent findings show that soccer players are more likely than football players to sustain an orofacial injury and a basketball players' risk is twice that of football players' risk. These statistics do not include the number of people participating in leisure football activities such as flag football and pick-up games with friends.

Of the three types of mouthguards (custom, Boil-and-bite guards and stock ), a custom-made mouthguard by your dentist offers the best protection, fit and comfort level because it is made from a cast to fit your teeth.


Exposing a child to tobacco smoke can delay development of the child's permanent teeth by four months on average; hence, the normal age when a child's permanent teeth erupt--between age 3 and 6--could be pushed back. This is another strong example of how smoking stunts human growth and development.

A one-pack-a-day smoking habit can cost you the loss of at least two teeth every 10 years. Smokers are about 2 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers, according to the results of two separate 30-year studies. Smoking leads to periodontal disease which leads to tooth loss.

Facts about cigar/cigarette smoking:

  1. Cigar/cigarette smokers often have badly stained teeth and chronic bad breath.

  2. Cigar/cigarette smokers have four to 10 times the risk of dying from oral, laryngeal and esophageal cancers as nonsmokers.

  3. The risk of lung cancer for cigar/cigarette smokers is three times that of nonsmokers.

  4. Cancer death rates among men who smoke cigars/cigarettes are 34 percent higher than among their nonsmoking peers.

  5. Oral cancer has the lowest survival rate, however, because it is typically painless in its early stages and goes unnoticed by its victim until it spreads, it lead to chronic pain and sometimes loss of function before it is diagnosed. In its later stages, it can lead to surgery and facial and oral disfigurement. Surgery can include removal of a portion of the tongue and jaw.

Gum Disease

Gum disease or periodontal disease, a chronic inflammation and infection of the gums and surrounding tissue, is the major cause of about 70 percent of adult tooth loss, affecting three out of four persons at some point in their life.

Bacterial plaque -- a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth -- is recognized as the primary cause of gum disease. Specific periodontal diseases may be associated with specific bacterial types. If plaque isn't removed each day by brushing and flossing, it hardens into a rough, porous substance called calculus (also known as tartar).Toxins (poisons) produced and released by bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. These toxins cause the breakdown of the fibers that hold the gums tightly to the teeth, creating periodontal pockets which fill with even more toxins and bacteria. As the disease progresses, pockets extend deeper and the bacteria moves down until the bone that holds the tooth in place is destroyed. The tooth eventually will fall out or require extraction.

Genetics is also a factor, as are lifestyle choices. A diet low in nutrients can diminish the body's ability to fight infection. Smokers and spit tobacco users have more irritation to gum tissues than those who don't, while stress can also affect the ability to ward off disease. Diseases that interfere with the body's immune system, such as leukemia and AIDS, may worsen the condition of the gums. In patients with uncontrolled diabetes, where the body is more prone to infection, gum disease is more severe or harder to control.

Signs of gum disease include red, swollen or tender gums, bleeding while brushing or flossing, gums that pull away from teeth, loose or separating teeth, pus between the gum and tooth, persistent bad breath, change in the way teeth fit together when the patient bites, and a change in the fit of partial dentures. While patients are advised to check for the warning signs, there might not be any discomfort until the disease has spread to a point where the tooth is unsalvagable. That's why patients are advised to get frequent dental exams.

In the early stages, most treatment involves scaling and root planing--removing plaque and calculus around the tooth and smoothing the root surfaces. Antibiotics or antimicrobials may be used to supplement the effects of scaling and root planing. In most cases of early gum disease, called gingivitis, scaling and root planing and proper daily cleaning achieve a satisfactory result. More advanced cases may require surgical treatment, which involves cutting the gums, and removing the hardened plaque build-up and recontouring the damaged bone. The procedure is also designed to smooth root surfaces and reposition the gum tissue so it will be easier to keep clean.

Removing plaque through daily brushing, flossing and professional cleaning is the best way to minimize (or prevent) your risk. Your dentist can design a personalized program of home oral care to meet your needs. If a dentist doesn't do a periodontal exam during a regular visit, the patient should request it. Children should also be examined.

Infection Control

Patient safety and infection control in the dental office is a concern to all dentists. You've probably noticed the disposable masks and gloves worn by your dentist and his assistants that they will change after every patient or procedure. Maybe your dentist even wears eye protection and something over his clothes. They will even wash their hands with antiseptic soap and sterilize all their insturments after every patient. All counters, trays, and chairs are disinfected, and this happens between each patient. The goal of this extensive level of cleanliness is infection control. The U.S. government, along with the professionals themselves, work to great lengths to ensure you have the cleanest and safest environment possible for your safety.


Bulimic patients can usually hide their eating disorders from family and friends, but not from their dentist, because the tell-tale oral symptoms are obvious to someone who knows how to "read a mouth.”

There are 2 symptoms in bulimics that never lie. The first symptom is the erosion of the backside of the upper front teeth, which creates a pattern caused only by vomiting gastric acid. This type of erosion can occur within days or weeks of the first vomiting episode. The second sign is a sore that appears in the corners of the mouth- a red burn caused by the exposure to acid during vomiting. Bulimic patients may destroy their teeth if they don't stop vomiting.


Many people are apprehensive about going to the dentist. The old stereotype of dentists only removing teeth still exists today. But dentistry has come a long way. It is now a sophisticated, professional environment where the major concern is the comfort of patients. Knowledge is the key to overcoming fear of dentistry. Ask questions. No question is ever too basic. Once you realize what needs to be done, your fears will lessen. Your dentist will also help you to overcome your fears. You could breathe deeply and calmly and concentrate on cheerful and pleasant thoughts. Listening to music through a walkman can help you relax, or your dentist may have other types of distractions. The only way your dentist can make you more comfortable is by you communicating to him/her your fears. Let your dentist know how you feel, and you may not be anxious about visiting the dentist anymore.

Mouth Piercing

A new way of expression- maybe, but oral piercing of the tounge, cheek, and lips can cause painful, damaging, and even fatal consequences. Most people who get their mouth pierced do not think about the effects it will have on their body. Piercing the tongue is not only very dangerous, it can also affect your eating habits and promote malnutrition or anemia. It can change a person's entire demeanor.

Wearers of oral piercing are strongly urged to discontinue their use due to permanent damage that may result in different parts of the mouth. Here's why:

Cheeks: objects close to the teeth and cheeks can cause fractures to the teeth and damage both the teeth and cheek tissues.

Tongue: permanent numbness, loss of taste, or movement may result when a nerve is accidentally pierced. Persistent bleeding or an immovable clot in this region can produce life threatening stroke or clog in a vessel.

Lips: permanent secretion of mucous fluid, drooling, can result from damage to salivary gland ducts. Lips can remain inflamed and enlarged.

In light of the above information, it would surprise me a great deal if anyone would do such things, since YOU have to live with the consequences for the REST of YOUR life.



Academy of Dentistry International
100 Park Avenue, 16th Floor
New York, New York 10017 USA
Tel: +1 212 984 0672 (voicemail for Interim Executive Director)