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Smokeless Tobacco

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Having grown children, it was a surprise to hear that chewing tobacco has now caught on in junior high. This is also true in high schools. It comes in various forms, including a strip that dissolves on the tongue.  Mistaken for candy by siblings, it has the potential to kill small children. School staff fails to detect other forms like the type you can mix with chewing gum. A friend recently listed some of the names and available flavors – and I thought of desserts and candy!

Remember that smokeless tobacco is also addicting. It has quite a bit of sugar. I had trouble nailing down an actual number or credible percentage when I reviewed the literature and brands.  Hmmm… cavities for all, most often at the gumline where the enamel is thinner and there is less tooth structure. This is between the oral environment and the nerve of the tooth.

What I also see in the mouth are areas of gum recession and tissue changes in the “vestibule” of the mouth. This is ‘dental speak’ for the space between the jawbone and cheek. By the way, this is also the place that any parent can inspect if they suspect that their adolescent is experimenting. Nicotine can make the body’s blood sugar go up or down because it modifies the way that the body can use glucose, which is usually regulated by insulin. Hence, a diabetic teen or adult has additional complications if they use smokeless tobacco.

I know that it is difficult to be proactive when raising children, but I urge you to make yourself aware of the forms and packaging of smokeless tobacco, and then talk to your children about the dangers.