World No Tobacco Day: 4 ways chewing tobacco or smoking can affect your oral health

May 31, 2022 03:59 PM IST

From mouth cancer to loss of taste and smell, here's how chewing tobacco and smoking can impact your oral health.

Tobacco is highly addictive and before your realise it can put you at risk of various cardiovascular, respiratory diseases, cancers and many other deadly diseases. Not just cigarettes but smokeless tobacco too has more or less similar detrimental effects on one's health. World No Tobacco Day, observed on May 31 every year raises awareness about the damaging effect of consuming tobacco and ways to get de-addicted. (Also read: World No Tobacco Day 2022: Passive smoking? You are at risk of these deadly diseases)

World No Tobacco Day, observed on May 31 every year raises awareness about the damaging effect of consuming tobacco and ways to get de-addicted.(Twitter)
World No Tobacco Day, observed on May 31 every year raises awareness about the damaging effect of consuming tobacco and ways to get de-addicted.(Twitter)

Unfortunately, due to lack of awareness or a strong will, more than eight million people worldwide lose their lives due to diseases related to tobacco consumption. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is one of the significant causes of death and disease in India and accounts for nearly 1.35 million deaths annually. According to GATS survey 2015, more than one third of all the adult population in India consume tobacco in some form. More than 80 per cent of the tobacco users are smokeless tobacco chewers making India the ‘Global oral cancer capital’ of the world.

On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day, Dr Hitesh R Singhavi, Consultant-Head & Neck Onco Surgery, Fortis Hospital Mulund shares how tobacco consumption can play a havoc with your oral health.

Tobacco can cause mouth cancer

Everyone thinks that tobacco can only cause lung cancer, but the fact is that smokeless tobacco is the main cause of the most common cancer (amongst males) in India. Tobacco contains more than 70 chemicals that can independently cause cancer. It not only effects your mouth but also your throat, food pipe, wide pipe, stomach, and lungs. Additionally, tobacco use is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and other debilitating health conditions.

It can cause gum disease, including tooth staining, gum disease and tooth loss

Chewing tobacco and unprocessed tobacco leaves can damage your teeth and gums. This is because nicotine and tobacco contain tiny abrasive particles that gradually tear down the teeth and strip it of its protective layer. In addition, when these particles are mixed with saliva, they form an abrasive paste that can damage teeth and make them yellow. People who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque in their mouth that leads to gum disease. When a smoker develops gum disease, there is a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, further delaying healing. Among adults, smoking is still a common cause of tooth loss, and when a person smokes, they accelerate that process.

It can reduce your mouth's sense of taste and smell

Smoking tobacco releases nicotine into the brain, suppressing a person's capability to taste various flavours. The reduced oxygen supply from inhaling tobacco smoke also plays a pivotal role in lowering the mouth's capacity for recognising flavour. In addition, smoking also harms the nasal passage, which can cause inflammation and pain in the mouth, leading to a reduced sense of smell and taste.

It can slow down the healing process in the mouth

If a person has ulcers or cuts in their mouth, smoking can damage and slow the healing process to a great degree. This is because tobacco used in smoking can reduce the blood flow and suppress the body's immune response. Besides healing, a smoker will find it challenging to get specific dental treatments done in their mouth as the jawbones and gums would be weak and unable to support any new structures in the mouth.

"Smoking, especially tobacco, is a habit that a person must never pick up in their life, and if they have somehow picked it up, they must quit immediately. The decision to quit smoking is one of the best health decisions that a person can take because it can remove all the above adverse health effects, including the risk of oral cancer, and at the same time lower the chance for a variety of cardiovascular conditions," says Dr Hitesh R Singhavi.

There are several significant benefits of quitting smoking, like improved breath smell and enhanced taste and smell. Post quitting smoking, the body's health is dramatically improved, and the choice to leave the expensive addiction that causes a large number of cancer deaths (lung, heart, and other cancers) eventually helps the whole body heal and recover more rapidly. By saying no to tobacco, one can increase their overall oral health and significantly improve their life expectancy," says Dr. Namrata Rupani, Founder & CEO, Capture Life Dental Care.

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