Most types of smokeless tobacco are full of stuff that is damaging to your mouth and gums. The sugar in it causes tooth decay. The grit wears down tooth enamel.
The two types of smokeless tobacco are chewing tobacco and snuff. Chewing tobacco is sold in loose leaf, twist, and plug forms. Snuff comes in moist, dry, and sachet forms. The most popular form of smokeless tobacco today is moist snuff. Using spit tobacco is NOT a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. It can cause oral cancers and lead to addiction. 1
• Smokeless tobacco is also associated with cancers of the esophagus, larynx, and stomach, and an increased risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.
• Forty to 60 percent of smokeless tobacco users exhibit leukoplakia in the mouth where the tobacco is held, usually within a few months of beginning regular use. Leathery patches (leukoplakia) are regarded as precancerous. Two to 3 percent of instances turn into cancer.
• Other side effects of smokeless tobacco include teeth stains, loss of taste, bad breath, and gingival recession.
• Almost 25 percent of young users start by sixth grade. Almost 75 percent start by ninth grade.
• Among U.S. youth in grades nine to twelve, 10 to 20 percent use smokeless tobacco at least once a month. Two to 3 percent use daily.
• Young males aged 17 to 19 used smokeless tobacco the least of any age group in 1970. Today, use by males of these ages is the highest of any age group.
• Nicotine in smokeless tobacco is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and is addicting.
• Spit tobacco users have similar or even higher levels of nicotine than smokers who use a pack or more a day.
• Withdrawal from regular smokeless tobacco use results in the same withdrawal symptoms and discomfort seen in heavy smokers trying to quit.
• Manufacturers of smokeless tobacco products have altered the nicotine content and pH, added flavors, and packaged moist snuff in sachets as starter products. These products gradually move novice users on to higher levels of nicotine addiction as their tolerance increases.
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1. University of Minnesota, Division of Periodontology.
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