What Do Nicotine Pouches Do to Your Mouth?

With smoke-free public spaces becoming the norm in many places, various products have emerged as alternatives to cigarette smoking. One of these products is a nicotine pouch. But what do nicotine pouches do to your mouth, you ask? Read on and find out.

What is a nicotine pouch?

A nicotine pouch is a smokeless, tobacco-free nicotine product. It is a soft, tiny, pillow-like bag filled with nicotine powder, fillers, sweeteners, and flavours. Unlike other cigarette alternatives, like snuff and some forms of snus, the nicotine pouch does not contain tobacco.

They are similar in size to breath strips, around 2-3 cm long and 1-2 cm wide.

Nicotine pouches also come in various nicotine strengths, from 2 to 20 mg/pouch and in different flavors like mint, fruit, coffee, etc.

How do nicotine pouches work?

Nicotine pouches are not smoked, chewed, sniffed, or swallowed. Instead, users tuck them between the upper lip and the gum for 20–30 minutes. This is enough time to enable the body to absorb the nicotine through the mucous membrane in the mouth. That’s when the same satisfaction one gets from smoking a cigarette starts.

Who Can Benefit from the Use of Nicotine Pouches?

Nicotine pouches are perfect for people who are trying to quit smoking or taper their tobacco intake as a better and lower-risk alternative. It can allow them to reduce their nicotine consumption and manage the discomfort that comes with cigarette cessation.

People who prefer a more discreet and socially acceptable means to get their nicotine dose will also find nicotine pouches a welcome option. 

While the move to free public spaces of cigarette smoke is commendable, it’s undeniable that immediate cessation of smoking is not possible for all. Cigarette smoking, with all its downsides, has never been the easiest to give up. Nicotine pouches are designed to fill in the gap that the pull-out of cigarettes in public spaces and workplaces has created.

Why is it important to position a nicotine pouch between the upper lip and gum?

It is vital to position the pouch correctly in the mouth so that users can maximize the benefits they can get from it. Placing it where it can be accidentally swallowed must be avoided, or anywhere it may interfere with speech and other oral activities. 

The pouch between the upper lip and the gum is discreet. Here, the pouch touches the gum and the inside of the lip on each side, maximizing the surface area where absorption can take place. This ensures the immediate action of nicotine in the body, even faster than when one smokes cigarettes.

Effects of Using Nicotine Pouch in the Mouth

The effects of a nicotine pouch in a person’s mouth can be best appreciated when compared to the effects of cigarette smoking. It is the cigarette it is replacing, after all. Let’s look closely into it.

No Teeth Discoloration

Teeth discolouration can spoil a person’s smile, self-esteem and confidence. Switching from tobacco products to nicotine pouches can help prevent teeth staining associated with smoking or chewing them. 

One drawback of cigarette smoking is the staining of the smokers’ teeth. The stain can range from yellow to brown depending on how long one has been smoking and how much he smokes. 

Cigarette smoke contains various chemicals, including tar, nicotine, and other substances coming from the combustion of tobacco, chemical additives, and paper. Tar is the dark, sticky residue from the incomplete combustion of tobacco. Nicotine, on the other hand, is colourless but turns yellow when oxidized.

When the smoke is inhaled, the tar and other chemicals in the smoke come in contact with the teeth, and that’s when discolouration starts. The heat generated from the burning tobacco and the inhalation of the hot smoke can further trigger more reactions of these chemicals. and  the more they adhere to the porous teeth’ enamel. The colour builds up over time until teeth become yellow to brown, which is almost impossible to remove with regular oral care. 

With a nicotine pouch, you will have no such problem because:

  • It is tobacco-free, which means it does not contain tar that can stain the teeth. 
  • There is no combustion involved; hence, there are no combustion chemicals produced, and there’s no smoke to carry them inside the mouth, even if there are. 
  • Nicotine can hardly be oxidized with it tucked between the gum and the upper lip; hence, the possibility of it turning yellow is minimal.
  • The nicotine and other chemicals in the nicotine pouch are absorbed through the mucous membrane in the mouth and have less direct contact with the teeth for them to cause staining.
  • Since no heat is involved in its use, it can mean fewer chemical reactions in the mouth.

Can teeth staining still occur over time with a nicotine pouch? More data is needed to conclude that it cannot, but given the nature of the product and how it is used, it is safe to say that the possibility is low.

No Persistent Bad Breath (Smoker’s Breath)

Have you ever had a close conversation with someone, and the moment he opened his mouth, you automatically had to hold your breath? The unpleasant smell of the smoked cigarette called the “smoker’s breath,” can sometimes become overwhelming for non-smokers. Unfortunately, it is also hard to get rid of.

Being aware of this about oneself can lead to defensive social behaviour, such as keeping personal distance from people, talking less when in a crowd, covering one’s mouth when talking, and many others.

Not only does cigarette smoke, with all the chemicals in it, stain the teeth, but it can also adhere to the surfaces inside the mouth, including the tongue, gums, teeth, cheeks, and throat and cause bad breath.

Some chemicals encourage the growth of bacteria that kill the good bacteria, thereby upsetting the balance of bacterial flora in the mouth and further intensifying the unpleasant smell.

Studies show that smoking causes a reduction in saliva production. This dry mouth condition aggravates the foul-smelling breath because there is not enough saliva to clean the mouth. 

On the other hand, nicotine pouches do not cause foul breath because 

  • They are odour-free.
  • Their presence in the mouth can stimulate salivation. More saliva means better cleaning action in the mouth and better prevention of the growth of bacteria that can cause bad breath. 
  • No combustion is involved, so no smoke or combustion chemicals are inhaled, which can linger in the mouth and throat and give an unpleasant smell. 
  • They also come in various flavours, like mint, which typically freshens one’s breath.

Disadvantages in the Use of Nicotine Pouch

Nicotine is addictive

Although it may be true that nicotine is addictive, nicotine pouches are designed for people who are already into nicotines through smoking, chewing tobacco products or using their nicotine product alternatives. 

 It is not a campaign for people who have no smoking history to start consuming nicotine with nicotine pouches. It is meant to help people manage their cravings while they are in the process of giving up or have given up tobacco product smoking and people who want to continue with their nicotine consumption as a less-riskier version.

Possible Gum Irritation or Gum Recession

With the pouch directly touching the upper gum, the gum can be irritated. Over time, it can cause recession when overdone. To avoid this, consider the following:

  • Rotate the placement of the pouch.

Avoid using only one position in the mouth. Rotate it every use to avoid irritation.

  • Pace use

If using a nicotine pouch is causing irritation, you might be overdoing it. Try giving the gum some time to rest. Just because you can use a nicotine pouch freely does not mean you can overuse it. 

  • Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water to keep the mouth moist and help alleviate any irritation caused by the pouch.

  • Proper placement technique

Make sure the pouch is correctly positioned between the lip and the gum to avoid too much movement of the pouch that can cause irritation.

  • Observe good oral hygiene.

Keep your gums healthy by regular brushing and flossing. That way, your gums can better handle any irritation from using the pouch.

  • Consult your dentist regularly.

Nothing beats a regular visit to the dentist when it comes to oral care.

What Cigarettes Do to Your Mouth

Cigarettes are finely cut and cured tobacco leaves wrapped in thin, rolled paper. It is lit on one end and smoked. The adverse effects of smoking on one’s health have been well documented, but the highlight of most discussions centres on its effects on one’s lungs. Not given much focus is its effects on one’s mouth, which includes:

  • Persistent bad breath

As previously mentioned, excessive smoking of cigarettes always leads to smokers’ breath, characterized by a distinct smell of tobacco combustion products and the by-product of their reactions in the mouth. 

  • Teeth Discoloration

Smokers often have stained teeth. They can be yellowish to brownish, depending on how long one has been smoking. This is mainly caused by the tar and oxidized nicotine from tobacco. 

  • Plaque Formation and Gum Disease

Smoking can weaken the immune system and make it hard for the body to fight off the bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria can multiply and cause plaque formation and gum diseases.

Moreover, the substances in cigarette smoke can alter the surface of the teeth, making these bacteria adhere more to them and eventually reach the gums.

  • Oral Cancer

Smoking increases the risk of oral cancer, including cancer of the lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat, through exposure to chemicals present in cigarette smoke. These substances, plus the heat from the cigarette, can irritate the mouth, causing damage to its cell lining.

These risks are  minimized with the use of a nicotine pouch.

What does snus do to your mouth?

Snus is a moist tobacco powder in a pouch with other ingredients such as salt, flavours and water. It is placed between the upper lip and the gum. It is not burned like cigarettes, so it’s called smokeless tobacco. 

Snus, as a better alternative to smoking, also has the same effect on one’s mouth as cigarettes except for the cigarette smoke breath. It can cause:

  • Tooth Discolouration

Snus contains tobacco, so tar can cause unsightly brown tooth staining over time.

  • Susceptibility to Tooth Decay

Snus typically has a pH of around 8.0 to 9.0. Exposure of teeth to alkaline pH can lead to the erosion of minerals from the tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay and teeth staining.

On the other hand, a nicotine pouch is typically on a neutral to slightly alkaline pH ( 7.0 – 8.5), depending on the brand.

  • Gum recession

Snus can irritate the gums and push them back, exposing more of the teeth and causing teeth sensitivity.

  • Oral Lesions and Leukoplakia

Oral lesions, including leukoplakia, can come from constant mouth irritation. 

Leukoplakia is characterized by thickened and white patches on the mucous membrane In the mouth. It is believed to be caused by irritants like tobacco (smoking and non-smoking).

What do vapes do to your mouth?

A vape, short for vaporizer, also called E-cigarette or electronic cigarette, is a battery-operated device that heats a liquid or vape juice to the point of vaporization. The vapour or aerosol is then inhaled like a cigarette. The liquid often contains nicotine, flavours and other chemicals. It is often used as an alternative to cigars. 

However, vapes are believed to have negative effects on the mouth and one’s oral health, like

  • The heat from the vapour and exposure to the vaporized chemicals can lead to dry mouth due to reduced saliva production, which can further lead to oral infection, gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath
  • Gum irritation leading to redness, swelling, and bleeding
  • Oral tissue damage with prolonged use
  • Oral cancer risk

What does snuff do to your mouth?

Snuff is a finely ground tobacco leaf that can come dry or moist. The dry type is snorted or sniffed into the nasal cavity. The moist type, on the other hand, also known as dipping, is put between the lower lip or cheek and gum. The nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the nose or the mouth. 

Snuff is smokeless tobacco, so no combustion is involved in its use. Despite that, because it stays in the mouth for an extended period and is abrasive, it can cause irritation of the oral tissues. This can lead to inflammation and an increase in the risk of oral cancer. It can also cause gum recession and tooth abrasion. Snuff, being tobacco, can cause tooth staining over time.

What do Zyns do to your mouth?

ZYN is one of the pioneering brands in the nicotine pouch market. It has gained popularity for its smoke-free and discreet nicotine delivery system, and it is not surprising. It effectively fulfils its promises, which extend to improving users’ oral health by preventing teeth staining and bad breath.

What do nicotine pouches look like?

A nicotine pouch is a small pillow-shaped pouch commonly the size of breath strips, although they come in various sizes depending on the maker. Regardless of the size, they are small enough to fit discreetly between the upper lip and the gum. They are soft and often white.

How do nicotine pouches make you feel?

The effect of nicotine pouches on an individual can vary depending on one’s sensitivity to nicotine, the nicotine dosage and frequency of use. In general, however, nicotine pouches can give you an increased sense of alertness, focus, mild euphoria, relaxation, and improved mood, all from the effect of nicotine.

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