Last Updated on April 3, 2023 by Dr Gustavo Assatourians DDS
Smoking is an ancient habit, and despite its side effects, it is one of the socially accepted habits, along with alcohol consumption. However, just because its consumption is “socially acceptable,” does not mean that it is not harmful. Tobacco consumption has serious harmful effects on people’s health, one of them is nicotine stomatitis. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), tobacco consumption remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, with over 480,000 deaths per year. Other effects of tobacco consumption may also cause:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Obstructive pulmonary disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Lung cancer
What does a cigarette contain?
A single cigarette contains:
An ignited cigarette is a factory of chemicals that, when lit, triggers the formation of carbon monoxide, benzene, ammonia, nitrogen oxide, hydrogen cyanide, and mercury, as well as metals such as lead, mercury, and chromium. These chemicals are completely harmful to health, not only for the person who consumes them but also for those around them. Among the components of cigarettes, nicotine is the substance that generates addiction since it stimulates the nervous system and can create as much dependence as heroin and cocaine.
What is nicotine?
Nicotine is a substance with stimulating properties with which pleasurable effects can be obtained. It is present in the tobacco plant, although it can also be found in vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes, although in very minimal amounts.
How are tobacco and nicotine consumed?
Nicotine products can be smoked, chewed, or inhaled, but they can also be inhaled in tobacco vapor. Some of the products that are smoked or inhaled are:
- Vaping devices
- Tobacco leaves
- Snuff (ground tobacco that is inhaled or placed between the cheek and gum)
How can nicotine consumption affect oral health?
Nicotine consumption directly affects the mouth as it is the means by which it enters the body, it is the first contact with the body. Over time, it can lead to periodontal disease, oral cancer, tooth loss, poor healing effectiveness, bad breath, nicotine stomatitis, and stained teeth.
What is nicotine stomatitis?
Nicotine stomatitis, also known as smoker’s palate, is a lesion on the palate mucosa. It appears as white areas with red raised spots, and the surface usually has a rough texture. The lesions can become more prominent as the habit of smoking persists.
Long-term ingestion of extremely hot beverages has been shown to cause similar damage to the oral mucosa, but stomatitis is more commonly associated with tobacco and its derivatives. The stomatitis usually disappears if the smoking habit is stopped. In some Latin American regions, where cigarette consumption is low, it is known as “reverse smoker’s palate.”
What does nicotine stomatitis look like?
It appears as a gray or white blister, slightly raised. Brown or black stains can be seen on the teeth, as in the teeth of tobacco smokers. These structures are nothing more than inflamed minor salivary glands. In the most extreme cases, the palate has a “dry mud” appearance.
What are the symptoms of nicotine stomatitis?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the disease presents the following symptoms:
- Persistent bad breath
- Pain when chewing
- Sensitive, red, or inflamed gums
- Bleeding gums
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
- Palate with a rough appearance
Can nicotine stomatitis be prevented?
Stomatitis is a benign condition that can be prevented by quitting smoking. When the habit is stopped, the symptoms disappear over time. In some cases, it can evolve into malignant lesions, which are not very common but can occur. It is best to try to quit smoking, or at least reduce it as much as possible so that the symptoms disappear. It is recommended to visit the dentist at least twice a year to detect diseases and lesions in the mouth, especially if you have a smoking habit.
When to see a doctor
- If you experience any of the following symptoms, it is recommended that a treating physician or dentist evaluate your health condition:
- The appearance of other symptoms or sores in the mouth
- Sores that make it impossible to swallow food or consume any liquid.
- If you have concerns regarding this oral health condition and/or other related health conditions.
What is the treatment for nicotine stomatitis?
If diagnosed with nicotine stomatitis, the dentist will recommend a scaling and root planing treatment, which involves removing excess accumulated bacterial plaque between the teeth and gums. Additionally, the patient should be educated on oral hygiene techniques and the use of dental floss. Home remedies do not exist as such, but home care is essential for the success of the treatment and to prevent the progression and/or appearance of diseases.
In conclusion, nicotine consumption can have a significant impact on oral health, leading to periodontal disease, oral cancer, tooth loss, poor healing, bad breath, staining of teeth, and nicotine stomatitis. Nicotine stomatitis is a benign condition characterized by white patches with red spots on the palate and can be prevented by quitting smoking or reducing tobacco consumption.
It is important to maintain good oral hygiene practices and visit a dentist regularly to detect and prevent oral health problems. If you experience symptoms of nicotine stomatitis or other oral health issues, it is recommended to seek medical attention from a healthcare provider or dentist. Overall, quitting smoking is the best way to prevent and treat oral health problems caused by nicotine consumption.
If you have any questions about this or other topics, you can contact us at Channel Islands Family Dental as well as our page on Facebook. We look forward to your visit and we will make a timely diagnosis. Our dentists in Oxnard, Santa Paula, Ventura, Newbury Park, and Port Hueneme will be able to guide you toward the best treatment to take care of your health and give you back your best smile.
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