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Mason County News
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Family Times
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 • Posted September 29, 2010

I’ve been working with the afterschool program on a Spit Tobacco Prevention class series, and it brought it to my attention to the fact that people often have the mindset that spit tobacco isn’t as dangerous as smoking. While it’s great that no one else in your family has to suffer the consequences of secondhand smoke when you dip, dipping is VERY dangerous because the product directly touches your skin. If you do dip, please do oral checks regularly so you can catch any sores that may form early on.

The fact is that all tobacco products contain nicotine, which is very addictive. According to the Mayo Clinic, some spit tobacco products contain additives that increase the rate at which nicotine is absorbed into the body. There is not a safe alternative when it comes to the use of tobacco products. All tobacco use is risky and may cause cancer, as well as other diseases.

For spit tobacco users who want to quit, one of the first things to do to reach that goal is to make a plan and list reasons for quitting. They need to review the daily habits of their spit tobacco use and then recognize how they will need to change their routine. Seeking support from family, friends, or co-workers is also important. It is good to talk with a doctor, dentist, pharmacist, or a health professional to learn about products such as nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) such as gum, patches, lozenges, and medications. It is important to check with the health professional to get the proper dosage for these products. Because of the high amounts of nicotine in spit tobacco compared to cigarettes, the recommended nicotine replacement therapy doses may need to differ depending on the amount used and the length of time a person has used spit tobacco. Another way to get information and help is to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, which is a clinically proven, free telephone-based counseling program sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

One of the best reasons for quitting is to reduce the risks of getting oral cancer. Spit tobacco users may request that their dentist do an oral exam to check for signs of cancer. If a person continues to use spit tobacco products, they should check monthly for damage to their teeth, gums, tongue, and surrounding tissue. There could be early warning signs of cancer. To do your own oral screening, you need a mirror and good lighting. Then follow these steps:

* Look in the mirror. Check to see if both sides of your face andneck look the same. Gently press your jawbone to feel for lumps.

* Pull down your lower lip. Check to see if there are white or red patches or sores that bleed easily. Are there any signs of irritation, like tenderness, burning, or a sore that will not heal? Look very carefully at the spot where you place your tobacco. Are there any color changes or rough areas? Squeeze your lip and cheek between your fingers. Are there bumps or soreness?

* Tilt your head back, and open wide. Do you see any discoloration, sores, bumps, or swelling?

* To check the floor of your mouth, put the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. With one finger, press around the floor of your mouth. Do you feel sores, bumps, or swelling?

* Stick your tongue out. Grab it with a clean piece of cloth or a paper towel. Move your tongue from side to side. Do you see any color changes or bumps?

If you recognize any of these signs, see a dentist or doctor right away, and let them know you use spit tobacco.

It is not unusual for a person to quit many times before becoming a non-chewer. When trying to quit, don't get discouraged, and don*t give up. Everyday habits can be hard to change, but the results will be worth it.

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