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E-Cigarettes & Your Health: Here’s What to Know

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

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Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, have taken over a large part of the market when it comes to alternatives for smoking. With e-cigarettes, no “smoke” is involved at all – instead these electronic devices use an aerosol technology to vaporize a solution of chemicals, nicotine, natural flavors and additives.

And, because of this, the term for using an e-cigarette is “vaping” instead of smoking. Let’s take a deeper look at these e-cigarettes and what it can mean for your health.

Are E-Cigarettes A Healthy Alternative To Smoking?

On the surface, vaping seems like it should be much safer than traditional smoking. And while it’s true that there is a reduction of negative health effects directly tied to smoking, e-cigarettes are not fully risk-free when it comes to the health status of your brain, body, and mouth.

As e-cigarettes sprang into the market and have risen in popularity over the last two decades, there has been a generalized assumption that they should be healthier than traditional cigarettes.

Unfortunately, there was a gap in information, since no long-term studies and relatively little research had been performed at the time of their introduction (1).

Translation: there’s many unknowns about just how bad this can be for your health!

E-Cigarettes: The Basics

It is true that e-cigarettes contain no tobacco, and emit fewer harmful byproducts than the burning produced by smoking tobacco cigarettes does. In fact, the Surgeon General reports that e-cigarettes are, overall, lower risk for your health than traditional tobacco products, BUT it does not claim they are risk-free (2).

One of the biggest long-term challenges with the electronic cigarette is the fact that it still contains the highly addictive substance nicotine. The biggest risk, according to the Surgeon General, is the trend for teens and young adults to begin using the product, and then convert to traditional tobacco cigarettes later in life.

This habit becomes a bigger problem for one’s health (3). Furthermore, because e-cigarettes have gained popularity in a younger market, the nicotine can cause harm to the developing brain of young adults or teens (4).

To complicate the matter, as we pointed out, long-term studies are still in progress, and just beginning to produce information about their use, so we can’t be completely sure about the long-term risks that will occur from vaping (5).

There is a widespread misconception that an e-cigarette’s aerosol is comprised of harmless water vapor. Although it’s true that it contains fewer toxins than smoked tobacco products, an e-cigarette still exposes its user to various chemicals and volatile compounds which are all known to have adverse health effects (6).

So, Is Vaping “Safe” For Your Mouth…and Your Health?

It’s also a common misconception that vaping is less harmful than traditional cigarettes when it comes to the mouth. Smokeless cigarettes have been found to promote dental disease, cause tissue inflammation, increase gum recession, and cause damage comparable to, and in some cases worse than, the damage caused with the use of regular cigarettes (7).

According to studies reported in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), there are several ways in which e-cigarettes can cause health issues, just to name a few:

Mouth And Throat Disease

Just like smoking a cigarette, vaping an e-cigarette can still increase the possibility of developing mouth or throat cancer or disease because of the harsh chemical agents in the aerosol (4).

Injury And Damage

There have been accounts of defective batteries or equipment, resulting in fires or explosions in the oral cavity. These incidents can cause incredible injury and damage to the mouth that may require intensive medical care (4).

Dry Mouth

Vaping causes dry mouth. Without enough natural saliva, you are prone to tooth decay, bacteria buildup and bad breath. This is because the natural saliva and environment of the mouth is altered (4).

Grinding Of The Jaw

Nicotine is a stimulant, and as such, it fires up the muscles. If you’re already a grinder, this encourages you to grind your teeth more intensely. If you are not a grinder, it could actually prompt you to start grinding your teeth. Tooth grinding can lead to TMJ pain/disorders, loss of enamel, tooth sensitivity or tooth decay, as well as worsening of periodontal disease (8).

Other Changes In The Mouth

Another issue is the nicotine itself, which has been shown to harm the mouth, gums and tongue – whether inhaled via e-cigarette or smoked via traditional cigarette. Nicotine reduces blood flow, thus restricting nutrient and oxygen supply to the tissues of the oral cavity. This can lead to gum recession. It also impacts the mouth’s inherent ability to fight off bacteria, putting the user at higher risk for infection or decay. Even worse, vaping can mask the signs of gum disease, making it harder for us to diagnose when you come to your appointment (4, 9).

What’s The Verdict?

cincinnati dentist and vaping

As mentioned above, e-cigarettes have not been fully studied to date. As more data is gathered, we learn more about what to expect as far as any health ramifications for this trendy little device.

From a dental health standpoint, the lack of burning byproducts from smoke and the absence of tobacco IS a positive feature of e-cigarettes as compared with traditional tobacco use. However, these electronic substitutions are still VERY detrimental to your oral health, and we recommend avoiding their use altogether.

Schedule An Appointment With Hagen Dental Practice

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Do you have questions about your oral health? If you vape, you should know about the risks of the habit, and be sure to keep your regular visits with us to help protect the health of your teeth and gums, and catch issues in the mouth early on. We want to help you on your health journey, no matter where you are at today.

We are here to help with all your dental needs! Please call (513) 251-5500 or click the Online Scheduling button on our website to schedule your next visit!

Give us a call at (513) 251-5500 today!

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2014-archive/september/nidcr-proposes-ecigarette-research
  2. http://www.casaa.org/historical-timeline-of-electronic-cigarettes/
  3. https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2016-archive/december/surgeon-general-report-e-cigarette-use-a-major-public-health-concern
  4. http://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(17)30866-8/pdf
  5. https://www.deltadental.com/us/en/protect-my-smile/overall-health/e-cigarettes.html
  6. https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/2016_SGR_Full_Report_non-508.pdf
  7. Sundar IK, Javed F, Romanos GE, Rahman I. Oncotarget. 2016 Oct 24. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.12857  E-cigarettes and flavorings induce inflammatory and pro-senescence responses in oral epithelial cells and periodontal fibroblasts
  8. https://askthedentist.com/how-e-cigarettes-affect-oral-health/
  9. http://www.ingeniousdentistry.com/how-vaping-affects-your-teeth/