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Health Risks Related to Smokeless Tobacco - Topic Overview

Smokeless tobacco products include chewing tobacco and snuff. These products are less harmful than smoking cigarettes. But they are just as addictive as cigarettes and do have serious health risks.

Smokeless tobacco causes the following health risks:1

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  • White, leathery patches (leukoplakia) that form on the inside of the cheek or on the gum. These patches can turn into cancer of the mouth (oral cancer), involving the lip, tongue, or cheek.
  • Dental problems, such as abrasion of teeth, gum recessions, and periodontal bone loss.
  • An increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

Nicotine from smokeless tobacco can lead to nicotine dependence. This can make quitting smokeless tobacco just as hard as quitting cigarettes.

A type of smokeless tobacco called "snus" seems to have much less risk of harm. But it is not clear whether using snus causes no harm or risk.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: August 15, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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