DVIDS – News – Preventing oral cancer from being a mouthful at Naval Hospital Bremerton


Stop chewing?

The annual Great American Spitout on February 24, 2022 is a perfect reminder to help start the process.

Ready to stop spitting?

Navy Medicine Readiness Training Command (NMRTC) Bremerton’s Tobacco Cessation advisor, as well as the dental/oral surgery team are here to help.

Tired of snuff?

Patrick Graves, smoking cessation counselor at NMRTC Bremerton, argues that the benefits far outweigh the risks when it comes to quitting a habit like smokeless tobacco.

Smokeless tobacco is really a super concentrated form of nicotine, equal to 3.5 packs of cigarettes.

“That makes it all the more addictive,” Graves said, citing statistics compiled by the Department of Defense that show chewing tobacco is used by nearly one in five military personnel aged 18 to 24, about 19 percent. , nearly double the national average. . “The dip is not a safe alternative to smoking because the body absorbs 3-4 times more nicotine, making it potentially more addictive than cigarettes.”

“Which is hard to conceptualize as a twenty-something sailor or marine who thinks they’re nearly indestructible,” Graves continued. “Cancer is the big scare, but often overlooked are the lung, cardiovascular and other diseases that arise.

People who use smokeless tobacco products and other tobacco products have heard these words before. Who does not know the dangers of nicotine? So what are the benefits for someone to give up their smokeless tobacco?

Graves says quitting smokeless tobacco can positively impact any former user physically with improved hygienic changes, brighter teeth and fresher breath, and professionally by improving their readiness with increased stamina through better lung capacity, fewer injuries and less downtime due to illness. Quitting smoking can even improve night vision.

There is also a financial incentive.

“Cigarettes are about ten bucks a pack, and dip isn’t cheap either,” Graves said.

Quitting smoking can save a smokeless tobacco user money. The Department of Defense Savings Calculator can show a person just how much their money is going up in smoke.

“If there is a person who uses the dip and/or smokes and is considering quitting, now is the best time. If they have symptoms such as high blood pressure, recurrent cough and/or shortness of breath, then they should ask themselves what they are waiting for. If they resist a worst-case scenario, it is already happening. Chewing tobacco is subtle,” Graves said.

Graves strongly believes – and supports – that anyone can quit using smokeless tobacco. It is not easy. It takes an average of four to seven times to try to quit, to quit. It’s taking an addictive substance that doesn’t like being told what to do. There are tools available – patches, gum, lozenges – as well as medicines. It suggests that a user make a detailed plan to quit smoking, including helpful hints such as:

• Write down the reasons for your withdrawal and keep them handy at all times. A good tip is to consider keeping them in the pocket that used to store a box of chews.
• Pick a date and work backwards to that start date. It is recommended that a user begin reducing their tobacco consumption two to four weeks before the actual tobacco-free date.
• Identify what triggers the use of any tobacco product and how a quitting user can cope when the urge strikes.
• Seek help from family and friends for support.
• Try replacing smokeless tobacco with a healthy alternative, such as sunflower seeds, toothpicks, or sugar-free gum/candy.
• Change the routine. If a user has chewed/soaked during the morning commute, take a different route or have a friend carpool.

If there’s a front line in the ongoing struggle to deal with the impact of smokeless tobacco, the Navy Dental Corps is helping to lead the charge for change on chewing. Dental Services at Naval Hospital Bremerton and associated clinics located at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor and Naval Station Everett are proactive in educating and reminding those in their care of the associated health risks with smokeless tobacco.

“Our colleagues in the dental community tend to see the impact of what chewing tobacco can do much earlier than me,” Graves said. “They are really good at recognizing warning signs such as a precancerous lesion. When a dentist, hygienist, or prosthetist says to a patient, “That looks bad,” that patient tends to listen.

During each annual dental examination for an active duty member, the teeth as well as the oral soft tissues are examined. Thorough screening can detect any of these potential precancerous lesions before they become a problem. Tooth decay and gum recession can also be identified and treated at an early stage.

There are other telltale signs a dentist should see when examining someone who uses smokeless tobacco products. There may be tenderness, a burning sensation, or irritation in the throat. There may be numbness or tenderness anywhere in the mouth or lips, development of a lump inside the mouth, color changes in the oral soft tissues, difficulty chewing, swallowing , speaking or moving the tongue or jaw, or any change in the way the teeth fit together.

Smokeless tobacco also breaks down gums, stains teeth and is a primary source of halitosis/bad breath.

“If the yardstick for a person is that they will quit smoking, that’s if they have a precancerous lesion, they may have already lost the battle,” Graves added. “If someone chewing starts to notice that they have a white patch in their mouth or receding gums, they should contact their dentist immediately.”

Graves encourages anyone considering quitting cigarettes or smokeless tobacco to contact their medical practitioner, unit/ship/boat. He can also be reached at (360) 475-4818, or at noon every Friday at the Bangor clinic.

Date taken: 24.02.2022
Date posted: 24.02.2022 21:14
Story ID: 415275

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