Betel nut use, tobacco use and oral cancer

We all know that tobacco use causes lung cancer. But did you know that it causes oral cancer too?  Same thing goes for betel nuts or paan as they call it in eastern countries.  It is not the chemical itself that causes cancer but the process in which it is chewed and stored in the mouth for long periods of time. 

The removal of betel nut stained teeth is quite tedious and requires several hours in the dental chair. The black or red stains have to be scraped off each teeth one at  a time. Also this process can lead to teeth sensitivity as it is stripping off enamel. Once enamel is ruined it does not grow back. 

The most common type of cancer of the mouth is called squamous cell carcinoma. "  More than 90 percent of cancers that occur in the oral cavity and oropharynx are squamous cell carcinoma. " 

 Users of snuff or chewing tobacco are at an increased risk for certain types of cancer, most notably cancer of the oral cavity including cancers of the:
  • cheek,
  • gums,
  • lips,
  • tongue, and
  • floor and roof of the mouth.

Both betel nuts and  chewing tobacco are held in the mouth inside the cheek or between the cheek and gum. This causes the flavor to slowly be enhanced in the mouth. Both of these chemicals can cause other forms of oral problems such as gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss, and possible links to other cancers and cardiovascular disease. The enjoyment of using these chemicals for personal pleasures is not worth the long term side effects that prolonged use of them can cause. 

Image result for leukoplakia gums
 
Author
Dr. Nabila Mannan

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