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Your mouth offers many reasons to quit using tobacco

Do you smoke cigarettes or cigars, or chew tobacco? If so, you are putting not only your overall health at risk but the health of your mouth, teeth and gums as well.

Smoking cigarettes can have many adverse effects on your oral and dental health. Among these effects are:

Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes. Even if you do not inhale cigar smoke, you are still at risk for oral and throat cancers. And like cigarette smokers, cigar smokers are at increased risk for periodontal disease and staining of the teeth and tongue as well as bad breath.

Like cigarettes and cigars, smokeless tobacco products contain a variety of toxins associated with cancer. Smokeless tobacco is known to cause cancers of the mouth, lip, tongue, and pancreas. Users also may be at risk for cancer of the voice box, esophagus, colon and bladder, because they swallow some of the toxins in the juice created by using smokeless tobacco.

Smokeless tobacco can irritate gum tissue, causing periodontal disease. Sugar is often added to enhance the flavor of smokeless tobacco, increasing the risk for tooth decay. Smokeless tobacco also typically contains sand and grit, which can wear down the teeth.

If you are a tobacco user, there's no time like the present to quit. There are a number of strategies than can increase your chances of success, such as enlisting the support of family, friends and co-workers, consulting with your dentist or physician about nicotine replacement therapy, and seeking tobacco-free environments to curb your temptations.

For more help, call 1-800-QUITNOW or go to "www.smokefree.gov".

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

11/24/2008

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