Are you planning to quit smoking? That’s a good thought! One alternative to assist you in this effort is chewing nicotine gum.
It is comparatively easier to switch between two forms of nicotine to battle the addiction.
However, this does not mean that nicotine gum is entirely harmless.
In fact, it can pose its own set of problems for your oral health.
This article discusses the harm to oral health it causes. Keep reading below to know more.
Oral Health Issues from Using Nicotine Gum
Dislodges Dental Work
Did you ever get fillings, wear dentures, have a crown or got dental bridges?
Chances are that constantly chewing on nicotine gum will dislodge existing dental work.
You may end up pulling out a dental filling or pop lose a partial denture.
There are chances of loosening a dental crown and gum up the dental bridge.
Hence, if you chew gum, especially one containing nicotine, it has the potential to destroy your existing dental work.
Mouth sores develop in people using nicotine often. These are usually present in the tongue and cheeks.
Once they form, they get further irritated by regular nicotine use. Hence, you need to stop chewing the gum unless you want to sores to worsen.
The temporomandibular joint disorder hurts the joint that connects the jaw to the skull.
This condition makes eating and speaking more painful and can cause a locked jaw.
Usually chewing gum helps with dry mouth.
It can lubricate the mouth by stimulating saliva production.
However, the presence of nicotine changes things in this gum.
As the mouth is drier, the bacteria have more room to grow and build up in the lack of saliva that may hinder their growth.
This can cause infection and as nicotine becomes an immunosuppressant that makes you more susceptible to illness and infections.
However, there are two major concerns that using nicotine in any form can affect oral health as well as overall health.
Let’s find out about them below!
Harms of Nicotine
Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor.
This means that it constricts blood vessels and anyone who uses nicotine products usually has high blood pressure.
When it comes to oral health, this property affects the blood vessels in the gum tissue.
Since these vessels are constricted there is a lack of consistent and good blood supply to the gums.
When there isn’t good enough blood flow in the gums to fight plaque and tartar, gum disease occurs.
In fact, it also progresses at a faster speed and there are not enough noticeable symptoms.
You may not notice the presence of swelling, redness and bleeding that typically accompanies as the earlier symptoms of gum disease.
As there is a lack of good blood flow, the disease worsens faster and the patient is also unaware of the symptoms so they will not seek medical attention.
The narrowing of the blood vessels only makes it rather easier for gingivitis and later down the road, gum disease to set in.
This less access to good blood flow also hinders another crucial function of the body i.e. healing.
If you recently got an injury or surgery, the lack of good blood flow will make it tougher for the mouth to heal.
This is due to the fact that a good blood supply aids in the regrowth of cells, closing any cuts or extraction sockets in the mouth.
So, nicotine users will end up needing more time to heal than those who do not use it.
This puts them at a greater risk for post-surgery infections.
Furthermore, it leads them to face greater pain in the mouth after injury.
These two are the biggest harms that nicotine causes.
While it may help in reducing your urge to smoke, the concept of nicotine gum still functions on nicotine dependency.
All said and done, but using nicotine gum may work as the only alternative to smoking for you.
After all, quitting smoking entirely is not easy and if you choose to quit it, the dependency on nicotine may urge you to relapse.
Follow the instructions on the label as directed and ask your doctor if you do not understand anything.
However, before beginning, consult your doctor for a few things.
- Ask your doctor if it is okay to take the gum with your medicines
Let your doctor know about the prescription and non-prescription drugs you take.
Also list the nutritional supplements, vitamins, and herbal products you take.
Along with the medicines for diseases such as high blood pressure, irregular heart rate, diabetes, asthma, depression and insulin.
- Ask your doctor what to do in the case of pregnancy
If you plan to become pregnant or breastfeed your child, ask your doctor whether you should continue using the gum in this case.
However, if you start expecting while you regularly chew nicotine gum, you have to stop using it.
- Let your doctor know the basics
Tell them if you have heart disease, suffer from ulcer, blood pressure or diabetes for which you take medication.
Also, let them know if you are under 18 or take a sodium-restricted diet.
You should also be careful not to use any other nicotine products or smoke cigarettes because that can result in nicotine overdose.
That said, there is a fixed dose of nicotine gum that you should take.
In order to look for an alternative to smoking cigarettes and firmly incorporate the habit, you will be using the gum for 12 weeks.
Let’s find out more below!
Using and Chewing Nicotine Gum
This is chewing gum that you will need to spit out after chewing for a while and do not have to swallow.
However, you will need directions to use it.
Do not use more or less doses than what it is recommended on the packaging or is referred to you by your doctor.
Usually, if you smoke your first cigarette 30 minutes after waking up then you will need a 4 mg gum.
On the other hand, if you smoke your first cigarette after 30 minutes of waking up, then you can chew the 2 mg gum.
The total time for chewing the gum is 12 weeks.
For the first six weeks, you will chew a piece of gum after every 1 or 2 hours.
During the beginning, you may feel a strong urge and craving so you can chew a second piece within an hour but not together or back to back.
During the first six weeks, you will be chewing at least 9 pieces of gum everyday as they improve your chances of quitting smoking. Keep your mouth busy!
In the next 3 weeks, reduce the quantity by chewing only one piece after every 2 to 4 hours.
Following that in the last 3 weeks, you should be chewing no more than one piece in 4 to 8 hours.
This way, slowly you are decreasing your dependency on nicotine.
However, you should not exceed chewing more than 24 gums in a single day.
Also do not chew one piece after another or two at a time. This is no ordinary chewing gum that you can eat casually.
Keep chewing the gum till you can taste the nicotine and feel a slight tingling sensation.
When this sensation starts, hold the gum between your cheek and start chewing again after a minute when it goes away.
Repeat this for 30 minutes.
Besides that, do not eat or drink anything 15 minutes prior to or following chewing the gum.
As 12 weeks are over following this routine, you should stop chewing the gum.
If you still crave nicotine, consult your doctor.
You should not continue chewing it as the gum has bad effects on teeth as well as health.
Side Effects on Health
If you chew one piece of this gum after another, you may get hiccups, nausea and heartburn.
After all, this is not your usual flavored, sugary gum or xylitol gum.
This is chewing gum for a specific purpose.
Hence, you should not be overdosing on it.
If you are facing side effects such as:
- difficult breathing
- irregular heartbeat i.e. fast
then consult your doctor about your dosage and whether you should be taking it.
You may also feel oral health problems such as blisters in the mouth, jaw problems such as TMJ and gum disease.
Other products such as lozenges, chewing tobacco and cigarette contain nicotine besides the gum.
They all have their own set of drawbacks.
For instance, lozenges can act as a replacement for the gum.
They are also sugar-free hence, they will not pose an increased risk for cavities.
However, you should not bite into them as that can break dental restorations and result in cracked teeth.
Other products pose a greater risk.
Chewing or smokeless tobacco can cause:
- oral cancer, the risk is fifty times higher than for those who do not chew it
- stains teeth
- risk of post-operative infection
- tobacco pouch keratosis
For cigarette users, there is a risk for:
- staining teeth
- bad breath
- oral cancer
- dry socket
- dry mouth
- dental implant failure
While these products contain tobacco, nicotine gum does not.
However, it still poses its own set of risks for your oral and general health.
In that case, always use it cautiously or look for better alternatives to quit smoking.