Nicotine Stomatitis

August 11, 2023

By Dr. Nicole Shen

Nicotine stomatitis, also known as smoker’s palate or smoker’s keratosis, is an oral lesion associated with pipe smokers, vaping e-cigarettes, and reverse cigarette smokers (when the lit end of the cigarette is placed in the mouth). This condition primarily affects the palate and occurs due to prolonged exposure to heat and irritating substances present in nicotine products. It appears as pale or whiteish lesions with raised red dots due to inflammation of the minor salivary glands. While nicotine stomatitis itself is considered a benign condition, it can serve as an indication of other potentially more severe oral health issues, such as oral cancer. The elevated temperature of inhaled smoke, combined with the chemicals and carcinogens, leads to tissue irritation and changes in the appearance of the oral mucosa. Prolonged exposure can increase the risk of malignant transformation of oral lesions.

Nicotine stomatitis serves as a stark reminder of the damaging effects of smoking on oral health. The condition may appear benign, but it should not be underestimated, as it can be an indicator of more severe problems and potential oral cancer development. Awareness of the implications of smoking and smokeless tobacco use on oral health is essential, and early detection and prevention through smoking cessation and regular dental check-ups can significantly improve overall oral health and quality of life.

This article was published on 08-11-2023 in The Altamont Enterprise.