Dentists have long known that tobacco use affects a person’s oral health in bad ways–from tooth decay and periodontal disease to oral cancer. Signs and symptoms that could indicate oral cancer include the following:
- Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips;
- Any irritation such as tenderness, burning, or a sore that will not heal;
- Development of a lump or a leathery, wrinkled, or bumpy patch inside your mouth;
- Color changes to your oral soft tissues (gray, red or white spots or patches), rather than a healthy pink color;
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue;
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together.
If these changes persist for more than a couple of weeks, visit your dentist for an examination.
Like cigarettes, other tobacco products contain a variety of toxins associated with cancer. Cancer-causing chemicals have been identified in smoke-less tobacco products which are known to cause cancers of the mouth, lip, and tongue. Users also may be at risk of developing cancer of the larynx, esophagus, colon and bladder. Cigars pose a serious health threat as well. Even if users try not to inhale cigar smoke, they are still at risk of developing oral and throat cancers and periodontal disease.
Ask your dentist about resources to help you quit. 1-800-QUIT-NOW is a free service to help people stop using tobacco.