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Choose a Healthy Smile Over Smokeless Tobacco

By Dr. Jeffrey Chaffin on April 11, 2018 in Dental Health

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As babies, our parents, guardians and caregivers make the majority of our decisions for us – what we wear, what we eat, how we spend our day. Each year, humans generally gain the ability to make more decisions about their needs, wants and desires. In the month of April as we observe Oral Cancer Month, Delta Dental of Iowa wants to encourage Iowans young and old to make the right decision for themselves about using smokeless tobacco.

Smokeless tobacco = deadly decision

Smokeless tobacco – sometimes called chew or dip – is a bad habit often picked up by young adults, especially young men. Teens may believe that it is more easily concealed than smoking cigarettes or using e-cigarettes (vaping). Regardless of why a person chooses to start using smokeless tobacco, the fact is that it is just as, or more, dangerous than smoking.

Do you think smoking 3 ½ packs of cigarettes a week seems excessive? Would you be surprised to know that dipping two cans a week gives you as much nicotine? According to, smokeless tobacco has at least 30 chemicals that are linked to cancer, including lead, uranium and arsenic. In addition, the nicotine from dip enters your bloodstream faster and stays in your system longer. These facts mean it may be harder to quit smokeless tobacco than smoking.

Using smokeless tobacco is a dental disaster.

If smokeless tobacco doesn’t give you cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, pancreas or lungs, you could still lose your teeth as smokeless tobacco may cause the roots of your teeth to weaken. Smokeless tobacco products contain sugar and other chemicals that can cause cavities, stained teeth, bad breath, gum disease and more. All in all, using tobacco products doesn’t give any of us a reason to smile.

Don’t start; but if you have started, you can quit

Obviously it’s easier to not start using tobacco products at all. But if you have started and want to quit, talk to your healthcare providers, like you doctor or your dentist to help you quit.

“Your dentist should perform a visual exam at each appointment to check for lesions or other symptoms caused by tobacco use that may lead to cancer,” said Dr. Jeffrey Chaffin, dental director at Delta Dental of Iowa. “If you want to quit using tobacco, there are a variety of cessation treatments that can be used to increase the rate of success of quitting. Ask your dentist or physician for more information.”

Decide on a healthy smile for life

People of all ages have to make healthy choices every day. Keep your smile as healthy as possible for a lifetime by not using tobacco products, brushing and flossing as directed and visiting your dentist regularly. For more information on quitting smokeless tobacco, visit Delta Dental of Iowa’s website and the American Cancer Society.