What Is Nicotine Stomatitis?
Nicotine stomatitis is a condition that goes by many different names. Colloquially known as smoker’s palate it is a condition that affects the hard palate in the mouth. In case you didn’t already know the hard palate is the roof of the mouth. Smoker’s palate creates a grey or white patch on the roof of your mouth, it can also give you red nodules there too. If you see the red dots on the roof of your mouth this is your salivary glands becoming swollen.
That Sounds Really Bad
It’s not brilliant, but it’s not the end of the world either. Nicotine stomatitis is usually painless, although it can cause discomfort when eating and drinking. In extreme cases it can cause fissures to form in the roof of the mouth which is definitely a little more than just uncomfortable. Nicotine stomatitis isn’t a death sentence, but it’s not a pleasant experience either.
What Causes It?
There are a number of causes for nicotine stomatitis. The most obvious one comes from both the longer more formal name and the colloquial name. Nicotine stomatitis and smoker’s palate both give away that smoking is a big part of the the cause. How exactly does it work though? Well, nicotine stomatitis is caused by heat exposure in the roof of the mouth. Smoking either cigarettes or a pipe heats the roof of the mouth and from there the chemicals in tobacco, including nicotine, irritate the roof of the mouth and causes the patch to develop over time.
While both cigarette smokers and pipe smokers are both prone to suffer from this condition is affects pipe smokers much more prevalently, due to a higher level of heat hitting the roof of the mouth from pipe smoking.
It’s not just tobacco products that can cause nicotine stomatitis to develop either, in a small percentage of cases drinking a high number of hot drinks over a long period of time can also cause the condition. You may think the name is misleading but due to the higher number of tobacco based cases when compared to hot drinks it explains why it was given the name.
As well as the superficial issue of the grey or white patch that appears in the roof of the mouth the red dots that appear are caused by the salivary glands in the mouth becoming swollen by the heat from tobacco smoking and hot drinks, as well as irritated by the chemicals in tobacco.
So It’s Caused by Tobacco and Is Painless, Does It Cause Cancer?
The links between tobacco products and cancer is well documented, but this particular condition is not cancer causing as long as you are smoking your tobacco in the traditional way. This means that the patch on the roof of your mouth won’t develop into a malignant tumour and if you can put up with the discomfort then you don’t need to worry.
However, if you partake in “reverse smoking” this is not the case. Reverse smoking is when you put the lit end of your cigarette or cigar into your mouth. If your smoke your tobacco this way then if you get nicotine stomatitis there is a change that the condition will develop into a malignant tumour. In this situation it’s not usually known by the name nicotine stomatitis because it is a different, more dangerous condition. When the condition is triggered in this way it is usually referred to as reverse smoker’s keratosis.
This doesn’t mean that tobacco products don’t cause cancer or anything along those lines, just that nicotine stomatitis is not a condition that develops into cancer unless you have brought it on by reverse smoking.
So What Can I Do?
It’s an incredibly simple task to get rid of nicotine stomatitis. If it is caused by smoking then all you have to do is stop smoking. If it is caused by too many hot drinks then you need to lay off the hot drinks a little bit. The hot drinks one is definitely the easier of the two. But stopping smoking? That’s a lot easier said than done. An easy way to help you transition away from smoking is with the use of nicotine replacement treatments.
There are a great number of NRT products available that will allow you slowly escape the grip of tobacco as well as relieve your nicotine stomatitis issue. Vaping is currently the most popular new NRT product that is on the market and it has a lot of success with helping people to stop smoking. Once you have stopped smoking for 2 to 3 weeks the nicotine stomatitis should have completely cleared up, if it hasn’t then it could be the sign of something more serious and you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Doesn’t the Nicotine in Vaping Cause It?
No, it doesn’t. While nicotine does indeed aggravate the condition and even lends its name to it, nicotine on its own doesn’t cause nicotine stomatitis. As mentioned previously the heating of the roof of the mouth combined with the nicotine is what causes the condition. As vaping provides nicotine but doesn’t heat the roof of the mouth it doesn’t have both elements required to cause nicotine stomatitis. That means that you can use vaping as an aid to quit smoking right away and it won’t hinder the recovery of your mouth.
Nicotine stomatitis is not anything to panic over, but if you want to get rid of it then you will need to make some lifestyle changes. Quitting smoking is an important one as is either cutting down on the number of hot drinks your consume, or even making them at a slightly lower temperature. It’s not just your mouth that will benefit from making the switch to a NRT like vaping though, your health will be in much better shape across the board. Just remember that nicotine stomatitis is a symptom of a much wider issue.