Guard Your Health is a resource for Army National Guard Soldiers and family members. Find health-related tools and information. Hear from fellow Soldiers and Families. Make medical readiness part of your personal mission.

Smokeless Tobacco Affects More Than Your Teeth

close-up of a man smiling


In this Article:

  • Tobacco use leads to poor dental health, expensive health care costs, and a shorter lifespan.
  • Using smokeless tobacco is just as harmful as smoking cigarettes.
  • Breaking free of tobacco will prolong your life while saving your money and smile.

Nothing beats a great smile. Sparkling teeth, radiant skin, a healthy laugh—life’s best moments involve smiles.

Yet every step of the way, tobacco is plotting to break up that magic that you and your teeth share. Don’t let it.

Read on and decide which matters more—your teeth, or tobacco.

Frown at This

On top of cancer, tobacco causes bad breath, stained teeth, bone loss in your jaw, mouth sores, decreased senses of taste and smell, hairy tongue, and shrinking gums. Good luck getting dates with all that going on.

On top of ruining your smile, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco can make you four times as likely to develop oral cancer. The side effects of oral cancer are nasty: skin lesions, lumps, and ulcers on your tongue, cheeks, and gums. Not to mention potential death—tobacco accounts for about one in every five deaths in the United States each year.

Everyone has seen the Centers for Disease Control’s heart-wrenching “Tips from Former Smokers” videos. Take advice from those who have literally been robbed of their natural smiles: Tobacco is not worth it.

The Smokeless Killer

To bust one of the biggest myths out there: Smokeless tobaccos—“dip” or “chew”—are just as harmful as the tobacco in cigarettes and cigars. Chewing tobacco releases toxic chemicals into the body and can lead to mouth sores, cracked and bleeding lips and gums, dry mouth, and throat and mouth cancers.

Smokeless tobacco actually contains higher levels of nicotine than cigarettes, which makes it harder to quit. One “dip” held in your mouth for 30 minutes delivers as much nicotine as smoking three cigarettes. The added sugar in the dip isn’t helping your teeth, either.

Grandma had good reason for telling you to put down the candy bar. Now put down the tin, too.

Pay the Cost, Feel the Loss

In addition to poisoning your mouth, tobacco robs your wallet. Smoking will cost you hundreds of dollars in the near future and thousands more down the line if you keep it up.

Plus, the costs associated with oral cancer treatments are astounding—while costs vary depending on stages of cancer, advanced cases can cost more than $200,000, and those are just oral cancer treatments. Imagine how much more lung cancer and heart disease treatment and surgeries could set you back.

The Bottom Line

Tobacco will destroy your teeth and your overall health—plain and simple. Gum disease, bone loss in your jaw, and oral cancers are problems the dentist can’t simply scrape away.

Beat tobacco now, and smile about it later.

Want More?