I have gum recession from smoking, and my teeth look horrible. Six of my upper teeth have exposed roots, and my teeth are sensitive. My dentist wants to refer me to a periodontist for treatment but says I must quit smoking to help the treatment work. Also, I need a gum graft, which my dentist says may fail if I insist on smoking. Before I commit to quitting for the fourth time, I am looking for alternatives and wonder if chewing tobacco is safer for my gums than cigarettes. I am addicted, and trying to stop smoking is one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. Thanks, Dennis from KY
Your dentist recommended you stop smoking because of nicotine’s effects on your gum tissue.
Is Chewing Tobacco Safer for Your Gums than Cigarettes?
Chewing tobacco is not safer for your gums than smoking cigarettes. Twelve to fourteen million Americans use smokeless tobacco. Like cigarettes, chewing tobacco contains addictive nicotine that restricts blood flow in your oral tissues, promoting diseases and hindering healing. Continued tobacco use can deter your efforts to improve your oral health.
A 2021 Periodontology 2000 article notes that smokeless tobacco has numerous effects on your oral health, including:
- Contributes to oral sores
- Causes gum recession
- Loosens periodontal ligaments from teeth
- Causes dry mouth
- Erodes teeth
- Increases the risk of mouth and throat cancer
- Increases your heart rate and blood pressure
If you want gum disease and gum recession treatment, avoiding all forms of tobacco will protect your oral health. After gum disease treatment, your mouth must heal; tobacco use will interfere with healing. A gum graft or other treatment for gum recession needs a healthy environment for your gum to reattach to your teeth.
If you need help quitting, ask your medical doctor about resources and prescription xxx to help you quit.
Atlanta periodontist Dr. David Pumphrey sponsors this post.