Dip is a type of smokeless tobacco. It’s also known as:
Although dip isn’t linked to lung cancer like cigarette smoking is, it can still damage your health.
Not only can it increase your risk of certain cancers, but it can also raise your risk of developing gum disease, which can lead to:
- bleeding gums
- tooth loss
- receding gums
This article will take a closer look at the link between smokeless tobacco and bleeding gums and the other effects it can have on your oral health.
Many people think that using dip or other types of smokeless tobacco isn’t as harmful as smoking cigarettes because it isn’t inhaled.
The truth of the matter is, all forms of tobacco have the potential to cause negative health effects.
When you chew on tobacco, nicotine and other toxic chemicals are absorbed through the soft tissue in your mouth, which then enters your bloodstream.
According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM), more than half of advanced gum disease cases can be linked to tobacco use.
Regularly using dip may have the following effects on your health:
- Bleeding gums. Using smokeless tobacco can lead to irritated gums that bleed when you floss or brush your teeth.
- Gum recession. Gum recession can develop in the parts of your mouth that frequently come into contact with tobacco.
- Oral cancer. It’s estimated that each year around
1,600 people in the United States are diagnosedwith oral cancer caused by smokeless tobacco. Repeatably using chewing tobacco can also lead to pre-cancerous patches called leukoplakia.
- Tooth loss. People who use smokeless tobacco are
more likelyto experience tooth loss than people who don’t use smokeless tobacco.
- Bone loss around teeth: Tobacco users tend to have a greater amount of bone loss around their teeth than nonsmokers.
- Tooth decay. Sugar added to smokeless tobacco during the curation process can damage tooth enamel and lead to cavities.
- Tooth stains. Chewing tobacco can cause yellowish-brown stains on your teeth.
- Bad breath. Using dip can lead to a dry mouth and bad breath.
According to scientific evidence outlined in a 2014 review, smokeless tobacco is associated with an increased risk of gum disease and gum recession.
Once you develop gum disease, you may notice one or more of the following
- bleeding gums
- swollen gums
- loose or sensitive teeth
- receding gums
- painful chewing
If you use dip and have bleeding gums, scheduling a visit with your dentist is an important first step.
They’ll examine your mouth for signs of gum disease caused by smokeless tobacco. Based on the extent of your gum disease and gum bleeding, your dentist will recommend the best treatment option.
Treatment for bleeding gums caused by gum disease may involve one or more of the following:
- deep cleaning beneath the gum line
- prescription medication
- surgery to repair lost gum tissue or bone structure
You may be able to recover from some of the damage caused by smokeless tobacco if you quit using dip.
Once you quit, your gums may become less inflamed. Also, according to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, within 2 to 6 weeks of quitting tobacco, the appearance of the tissue in your mouth may return to normal.
However, without surgery, some of the effects of gum disease may be permanent, even if you quit using dip.
For instance, receding gums and bone loss caused by smoking tobacco typically won’t improve without surgery.
If you regularly use dip and you have bleeding gums, it may be due to gum disease. However, bleeding gums can have other causes, too.
Bleeding of the gums every now and then may be caused by brushing your teeth too vigorously or using a toothbrush with bristles that are too hard for your gum tissue.
Or, you may have gingivitis from not brushing close enough to your gumline and using the proper technique. Bleeding gums can also be caused by dentures that don’t fit correctly.
Frequent gum bleeding can also be a sign of other conditions, including:
Besides affecting your oral health, regularly using dip can also increase your risk of other health conditions.
- Heart disease. According to the results of a 2019 review, some types of smokeless tobacco like snus and snuff may
increase your riskof developing heart disease.
- Esophageal cancer.
Researchprovided by a 2018 review suggests that people who regularly use smokeless tobacco have an elevated risk of developing esophageal cancer.
- Pancreatic cancer. Studies show that smokeless tobacco is a possible risk factor of pancreatic cancer.
- Pregnancy complications. According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), using smokeless tobacco while pregnant may increase the risk of stillbirth or early delivery.
- Addiction. All forms of smokeless tobacco contain nicotine and have the potential to be addictive. Withdrawal symptoms usually include cravings, increased hunger, irritability, and depression.
Quitting any form of tobacco can be difficult. However, making the decision to quit is one of the best decisions you can make for your overall health and well-being.
Having a strong support system is important to help get you through the quitting process.
Your healthcare provider may also be able to provide resources and prescription products to help you wean yourself off smokeless tobacco and the addictive effects of nicotine.
The following online resources may also be helpful tools for helping you get through the quitting process:
- NCI’s Live Help. The National Cancer Institute’s
LiveHelponline chat allows you to talk to a counselor who can help you quit tobacco. Counselors are available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.
- SmokefreeTXT. SmokefreeTXT is an app that sends you daily text messages to encourage you in your quest to quit tobacco.
- Quit for Life Quit Line. Quit for Life is the American Cancer Society’s helpline. Their website allows you to talk with a counselor 1-on-1 so you can receive customized advice any time, day or night.
Just because smokeless tobacco isn’t inhaled, doesn’t mean it can’t affect your health.
Chewing tobacco increases your risk of developing gum disease which, in turn, can lead to bleeding gums, gum recession, bone loss around your teeth, and tooth loss.
Using dip regularly may also increase your risk of oral cancers, heart disease, esophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer
Quitting smokeless tobacco isn’t easy, but it can boost your health in many ways, including the health of your gums and teeth.