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Tobacco use and your teenager.

Did you know that almost all adult smokers have tried smoking before the age of nineteen? In all likelihood, an individual who abstains from smoking throughout the teenage years will never pick up the habit.


Aside from being a socially undesirable habit, smoking can stain your adolescent's teeth, increase their risk of developing periodontal disease, and reduce smelling and tasting abilities.  It is also the leading cause of oral cancer. At Atlanta Pediatric Dental Specialists, Dr. Krieger encourage children and adolescents  to abstain from all forms of tobacco use.

Is smokeless tobacco less dangerous for teens?

Tobacco use in any form brings the oral region into direct contact with carcinogens (cancer causing agents).  These carcinogens and other harmful chemicals cause irreparable damage to the child’s oral health.

Smokeless tobacco has been proven to deliver a greater concentration of harmful agents into the body, and to be far more addictive than other forms of tobacco. One snuff of tobacco has approximately the same nicotine content as sixty regular cigarettes. In addition, smokeless tobacco causes leukoplakias in the mouth, which are dangerous pre-cancerous lesions.

What are the signs of oral cancer?

Oral cancer can be difficult to detect without the aid of the dentist. In some cases, oral cancer is not noticeable or even painful until its later stages.  Parents of tobacco users must be aware of the following symptoms:

  • Changes in the way the teeth fit together.
  • Difficulty moving the jaw.
  • Mouth sores that don’t heal.
  • Numbness or tenderness.
  • Red or white spots on the cheek, lip, or tongue.

How can I stop my child from using tobacco?

There are several ways to discourage children and adolescents from using tobacco products.  First, talking to the child personally about the dangers of tobacco use (or asking Dr. Krieger to talk to the child) has proven an effective preventative strategy.  Second, parents should lead by example. According to research studies, children of non-smokers are less likely to pick up this dangerous habit.  Third, monitor the child closely.  If you think your teenager is using tobacco in any form, please let us know when your child is at Atlanta Pediatric Dental Specialists so that our doctors can screen your adolescent and provide proper education about the harmful effects of tobacco use.


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