Coming from a semi-southern background and growing up in a farm community was an interesting experience from every angle. Once I turned 18 one of the things I was excited about was being able to got to the store and get a fresh can of chewing tobacco. For the next five years I was a daily user and at my worst was dipping two or more cans a day. Finally after I decided to quit, I really started to recognize the negative effects that it had on my health. Here are some of the side effects of chewing tobacco that aren’t often talked about.
Anger- This one really caught me by surprise. Over the years I had seen more than one doctor to discuss issues with anxiety and anger. What was never told to me was that the addiction center in my brain was creating false emotions when the nicotine in my body would run low. Surprisingly my head cleared up within weeks of quitting and I felt much better.
Teeth Discoloration- While most people have heard the information about chewing tobacco causing throat and mouth cancer, the general discoloration is less talked about. After only five years my teeth had all turned yellow or even brown in some places. It took three trips to the dentist to whiten them to a normal whitish shade.
Loss Of Appetite- Not until after quitting did I realize the amount of meals and rounded nutrition I was missing from my diet. I would often go a week and only eat about 10 or 15 meals and in turn was gaining weight rapidly as my body entered hibernation mode.
Bad Breath- While the flavor of the tobacco in your mouth will cover it up while you’re using it, soon after your breath will smell horrible. Many people claim this is a myth but once you have it for an extended period of time you don’t notice it anymore, however, other people will and do. I ended up having to brush my teeth multiple times a day to remedy this.
High Blood Pressure- For a long time I was wondering why my natural blood pressure efforts showed little or no progress. According to research from The Mayo Clinic, smoking or chewing tobacco can have a direct impact on your blood pressure and hypertension levels. Soon after stopping my body stabilized to an acceptable level.
Dry Mouth- This is one that was consistent and presented itself almost immediately after I started chewing. The constant spitting dries your mouth out and will cause your lips to crack more easily. After about two years I couldn’t stand it anymore and had to use a special mouthwash and toothpaste to help alleviate these symptoms.
Addiction- The chemical nicotine that is found in cigarettes is also present in chewing tobacco making it hard to stop once you’ve started. Your craving for this chemical will cause you to often do things you wouldn’t normally. I found myself craving tobacco in all sorts of situations where it wasn’t allowed or acceptable.
Tooth Loss- Not only can smokeless tobacco affect the color of your teeth, but it can also weaken and erode them to the point of breaking. In just five years I had to have three teeth pulled after my constant use. One is still partially embedded in my gums as it was too brittle to be pulled and actually broke during my procedure.
If you or a loved one uses chewing tobacco it may be time to look at the options for quitting. I used a combination of methods and over a one month period I was able to slow my use and finally stop. If you need help quitting I suggest trying nicotine gum, support chat groups online, and nicotine patches. If you’re not looking to entirely ridding yourself of nicotine but want a safer alternative, try using an electronic cigarette. These are now widely available and are much safer and either of the traditional tobacco use methods. Good luck in quitting!