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How Does Tobacco Consumption Lead to Dental Problems & Gradually to Oral Cancer?

May 31, 2016

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A surprising statistics by the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research of India states that oral cancer is among the top three types of cancers in India and over 5 people in India die every hour everyday because of oral cancer. The main cause of oral cancer – tobacco consumption is at a rise with the modern lifestyle and the no. of deaths are only going to increase 10 years down the line. And sadly, oral cancer is one of the only cancers which has not seen a significant increase in survival rates in the past 30 years.   Tobacco consumption is, without a second thought, one of the most hazardous things you can do to your smile. When you smoke cigarettes or intake tobacco orally, you are not only causing your teeth to discolor, you are creating a variety of other risks, as well. The yellowing of the teeth is often the first sign of damage for smokers. This yellow color is embedded into the actual enamel of the teeth and it is not something you can remove with brushing. Tobacco and smoking also lead to gum disease in the mouth. Gum disease may not even cause pain. However, it can cause you to lose your teeth due to an infection of the gums. When someone smokes or consumes tobacco they produce a plaque that contains high levels of bacteria, which is the leading cause of gum disease. Of course even people who do not smoke have the chances of getting a gum disease, smoking puts you at an even higher risk for developing the disease. When you are lighting a cigarette or chewing tobacco, you are putting yourselves at the risk for lung and throat cancer. What many do not know is that tobacco is the leading cause of mouth cancer. Since tobacco weakens the immune system, it allows the cancer to flourish in the body.   The best way to avoid oral cancer is of course stop the consumption of tobacco completely. Oral cancer spreads quickly, so early detection is crucial. Your regular dental check up is the ideal time to get yourself screened for oral cancer. Dentists can perform quick, painless oral cancer screenings by examining the mouth and throat for symptoms of oral cancer like red or white patches, lumps, or swollen lymph nodes. Mostly if it is diagnosed at later stages, it will result in low treatment outcomes and high costs. And even after all this, you continue to smoke and consume tobacco in any form, you are going to increase the risk of oral cancer for yourselves. Letting it go without the proper care can be life threatening. Medical history of patients has shown that public awareness and improved early detection are the best ways to stop oral cancer in its tracks and pave way for a healthier future.

Dr. Kinner Shah

Onco Surgeon

Department of Oncology & Onco Surgery

Shalby Hospital, Ahmedabad

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