Smokeless tobacco comes in many forms, many of which are placed in the mouth and absorbed through the oral tissues. Familiar types of smokeless tobacco include: chewing tobacco, spit tobacco, snus, and snuff. The newest form of smokeless tobacco is dissolvable tobacco in the form of sticks, pellets and strips. Smokeless tobacco causes oral cancer and a host of dental diseases.
Individuals who use smokeless tobacco are at risk for oral, esophageal, laryngeal, and pancreatic cancer. According to the Oral Cancer Society, “Long term snuff users may be 50 percent more at risk for cancer of the cheek and gums” compared to an individual who does not use smokeless tobacco.
Chemicals & Nicotine
Smokeless tobacco contains over 30 cancer causing chemicals and contains highly addictive nicotine. Cancer-causing chemicals are absorbed by the oral tissues, causing mutations in the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of the cells. The damaged cells continue to grow, and over time may form a tumor. Oral cancer can be very debilitating. It may cause facial deformities and create difficulty eating and speaking.
The survival rate for individuals diagnosed with oral cancer is only 57% within 5 years of diagnosis. The Oral Cancer Foundation states: “Historically the death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high not because it is hard to discover or diagnose, but due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development.” We want you to rest assured that at Hogan Family Dental, oral cancer examinations are rendered at every exam appointment by a thorough head and neck evaluation. This oral cancer screening takes less than one minute and is recommended on a regular basis for every patient.
Be an Advocate
We encourage patients to be advocates for their own oral health. Signs and symptoms to watch for include: white or red tissue patches, ulcerated areas, hoarseness, and firm tissue masses. Each of these “should be considered suspect if it does not resolve within a two week period on its own, with or without treatment.” – (Oral Cancer Foundation). We encourage patients to regularly examine their own mouths between dental visits, especially those who use any kind of tobacco products.
If your dentist is suspicious of a pre-cancerous or cancerous lesion, a biopsy will be taken and sent to a laboratory for further evaluation. Once the lab results are completed, you will be contacted for a consult or referral to an oral surgeon if needed.
Ways to Quit
The best advice concerning tobacco use is: never start. If you do use smokeless tobacco products and would like to quit, we encourage you to utilize some of the ideas below to quit the habit.
- Start by picking a Quit Date and write it down.
- Identify your reason for wanting to quit and write it down.
- Get support from friends and family and inform them of your Quit Date.
- Find oral substitutes for spit tobacco such as sunflower seeds, sugarless gum, xylitol candy and mints, and toothpicks.
- Remove all cans of tobacco from your home and vehicles/equipment.
- Switch brands to a lower concentration of spit tobacco; take smaller dips.
- Increase the amount of time between dips.
- Consult with your dentist or physician to evaluate if nicotine replacement products may be helpful.
- Contact the Montana Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-Quit Now.
Support is Available
Know that support is available to you, whether from your loved ones or your healthcare providers. We enjoy hearing about your success and are here to support you every step of the way. We invite you to call Hogan Family Dental if you would like additional information on tobacco cessation or would like to schedule an oral cancer examination.
Hogan Family Dental Commitment
We are committed to providing the best possible oral health care to you. We routinely perform oral cancer screenings as a part of each regular examination. This is our commitment to comprehensive care for you. If you or someone you know would like to have an oral cancer examination, please contact us.
Call Hogan Family Dental at (406) 234-2926 or email us to schedule your next oral cancer screening appointment.