By Dennis Douda, WCCO-TV
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The flavors “Very Berry” and “Winter Mint” may make you think the package holds chewing gum, but the smokeless tobacco inside is certainly not child’s play.
Family Dentist Bob Moralt of Mahtomedi is shocked by the growing number of his young patients, mostly boys, trying to be cool, in a way he thinks is kind of gross.
“Smokeless tobacco and any tobacco product stains the teeth terribly and it can affect gum health,” said Marolt. “Of the male (patients) age 14 to 20, I would say 5 to 10 percent have at least tried it.”
A national survey found 22 percent of American High school students smoke. The estimate for chewing tobacco is 10 percent to 20 percent depending on the region. And 75 percent of the kids started by the ninth grade.
The longer the exposure to tobacco’s carcinogens, the greater the risk of a oral cancer.
“The gums, the inside of the cheeks, the underside of the tongue will become diseased and you cannot see it at an early stage,” said Moralt.
For that reason, Moralt now shines a special light in the mouth that makes abnormal cells glow, long before cancer may be seen with the unaided eye.
“That alerts us that we need to do some further investigation, (perhaps) a biopsy to see what those cells are and to make sure they’re not cancer,” Moralt said.
New Federal laws make it more difficult to market chewing tobacco to minors.
The Minnesota Dental Association holds its Give Kids a Smile event February 4th & 5th.
For details, check out this website.
WCCO-TV’s Dennis Douda Reports