Tobacco users should by now be well aware of the health dangers of nicotine. Way back in 1964 the U.S. Surgeon General wrote that nicotine and tar from cigarettes caused lung cancer. In 1965, Congress passed the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, ruling that every cigarette package must have a warning label stating, “Cigarettes may be hazardous to your health.” In 1984, the Comprehensive Smoking Education Act added three additional labels to be printed on cigarette packs.
Smokeless tobacco, which comes in the form of chewing tobacco, snuff or snus, came under fire, too. Effective June 2010, warning labels began to appear on smokeless tobacco products and their advertisements. Research directly linked smokeless tobacco to oral, pharyngeal and laryngeal cancer as well as cancer of the esophagus, gum disease and tooth loss.
Research on antioxidants vs. nicotine
At PerioSciences, we are vitally interested in oral health. Our product line of AO ProVantage dental gel, AO ProRinse, and AO ProVantage BLAST includes the antioxidants phloretin and ferulic acid, which work synergistically with the natural antioxidants found in saliva. Our products are cooling, soothing, and refreshing for the breath—and for oral tissues.
We have also followed and funded scientific research on how antioxidants work with oral cells. In particular, we have been following studies at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry (BCD) in Dallas, Texas. This group has studied the effect of nicotine on oral cells. Their studies have confirmed that nicotine keeps wounds—such as a scratch on oral cells—from healing because it increases reactive oxygen species (ROS, or free radicals). Nicotine also inhibits cells from migrating across a wound to heal it.
The BCD studies also examined the effect of antioxidants on scratch-wounded cells exposed to nicotine. According to their report, published in the Journal of Periodontology, “Treatment with antioxidant combinations clearly counteracted the effects of nicotine by restoring and increasing cell-migration rates…These results clearly demonstrate that [combinations of ferulic acid (F) and phloretin (P)] counteract the negative effects of nicotine ….”
The case of the dippers
Laboratory studies on petri dishes of cultured cells are impressive. But what about actual people? Well, it turns out that dentists and periodontists have been observing the effects of AO ProVantage products on some of their patients. We’re getting lots of positive reports. One periodontist in particular has written a case study about two of his patients who were long-time users of smokeless tobacco. We call them “dippers.” Both patients, 35-year-old men, had developed painful sores between their gum and cheeks—the spot where they stashed their tobacco. Our dentist wasn’t able to convince them to actually stop using the tobacco product. But the patients did find that using AO ProVantage BLAST, which is specifically formulated for people who use nicotine, not only freshened their breath, but more important, also soothed the soft tissue in and around the oral cavity. They reported improved appearance of their oral tissues and a pleasant refreshed feeling—even though they continued to use their smokeless tobacco.
So, if you’re a smoker or if you use smokeless tobacco, we at PerioSciences urge you to break the habit. If you can’t quit, make a new habit of using AO ProVantage BLAST. It’s the least you can do for your mouth.