Oral cancer is defined as an unmanageable growth of cells that causes damage to surrounding tissue. This can be life-threatening if not diagnosed or treated at an early stage.
Tobacco is one of the major causes of a number of health complications, including oral cancer. To spread awareness among people about the ill effects of using tobacco, in any form, the World Health Organization has declared May 31st as “World No Tobacco Day”. On this day every year, many awareness programs and demonstrations are conducted all over the world to discourage people from smoking or chewing tobacco. Some of the health complications that are directly related to tobacco consumption are:
- Gum Disease – Gum disease is caused mainly due to poor oral hygiene. Smokers are six times more likely to acquire this disease. The gums become red and swollen, and eventually, the bacteria destroy the gum and bone that hold the teeth.
- Oral Cancer – One major cause of oral cancer is tobacco as it contains carcinogenic chemicals. When smoked or chewed the oral tissue gets exposed to these chemicals. The American Cancer Society reports that about 90 percent of people with mouth cancer have used tobacco. Even smokeless tobacco increases the risk of cancers of the cheek, gums and inner surface of the lips by nearly 50 times.
- Delayed Healing – Oral tissue needs oxygen in order to heal. This oxygen is carried by your blood. The toxic chemicals present in tobacco delay the healing process inside the mouth by decreasing blood flow to oral tissue. This is how tobacco delays the healing of oral tissue.
- Stained Teeth – Prolonged use of tobacco may cause discoloration of teeth. The nicotine and tar present in tobacco may stain the outer layer of the teeth to yellow or even brown. Teeth whitening can be a temporary remedy to this discoloration.
- Bad Breath – Clinically known as ‘halitosis’, or simply bad breath, this is caused by the accumulation of bacteria inside the mouth due to the use of tobacco.
Since tobacco has addictive properties it is very difficult to quit, but one must keep in mind the health hazards mentioned above. If required, take the help of a dentist or an oral care specialist to take the first steps in overcoming such problems.