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Electronic Cigarette Health Risks and Oral Health: Things To Know

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Most people know about the negative health effects of smoking cigarettes, which turned e-cigarettes into a popular alternative.

E-cigarettes, also known as e-cigs or vape pens, were invented to help smokers quit smoking. However, their enticing flavors and perception as a harmless smoking alternative have led many non-smokers to try it.

Here are some of the things you should know about vaping and oral health and some of the pros and cons of electronic cigarettes.

What Are E-cigarettes? 

An e-cigarette is a battery-powered nicotine delivery system that turns vape juice into a vapor that users inhale. It has many types, but most e-cigarettes have a battery, heating element, and a liquid container.

Some e-cigarettes look like normal cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, while some look like pens, USB sticks, and other everyday items.

Only people over the age of 21 are allowed to purchase e-cigarettes. Researchers are also gathering more information on e-cigarettes and their use, which can help lead to new regulations and educate the public about e-cigarettes and their possible health risks.

What Health Risks Do E-cigarettes Pose? 

Here are some electronic cigarette health risks you should know about:

Nicotine Content

Nicotine is a known electronic cigarette health risk. It’s a dangerous and addictive e-cigarette ingredient also found in tobacco products that can affect brain development, a process that continues until the age of 25. Unfortunately, most vape users are of the younger population.

Toxic Substances 

Other electronic cigarette health risks include the toxic substances they contain. The American Lung Association lists a variety of toxic chemicals found in e-cigarettes besides nicotine. These include:

  • Benzene, a chemical found in car exhausts

  • Formaldehyde and acetaldehyde which are known to cause cancer

  • Acrolein, which causes irreversible lung damage

  • Diacetyl, a compound that causes bronchiolitis or “popcorn lung”

Doesn’t Prevent Teen Smoking 

Teen smoking is also an electronic cigarette health risk. The way most e-cigarettes are marketed and their flavors make them seem like safer alternatives to smoking; however, this sends the wrong message to teenagers that may tempt them to vape. Unfortunately, vaping too early increases your chances of smoking regular cigarettes later in life.

A 2017 study found that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke regular tobacco products later in life than their peers.

Secondhand Smoke 

Secondhand smoke can also come from vaping, not just cigarette smoking. Most of the chemicals in traditional cigarettes are also found in e-cigarettes, which result in toxic vapors that may harm nearby people.

Harmful to the Brain 

Nicotine use — in any way, shape, or form — can affect the brain’s reward system, especially among young people. It also affects brain areas responsible for learning and attention and increases the risk of developing mood disorders or problems with impulse control.

Overheating or Explosions 

Some types of e-cigarettes called “mechanical mod” use lithium batteries, which have been known to explode and cause severe damage to the mouth. They usually happen while charging the batteries and are often caused by improper care or misuse.

Are There Any Benefits to E-cigarettes? 

E-cigarettes are not without any risks, but they do have a few benefits:

They can help some people quit smoking.  

E-cigarettes are harmful, but they aren’t as toxic as traditional cigarettes. Despite being promoted as a good way to quit smoking, the FDA has not given its approval for its use as a quit smoking aid. The best way to stop smoking is to avoid all forms of tobacco products.

They are cheaper than smoking.  

Vaping costs can vary from $387.75 to $5082.5, while smoking a pack once a day costs $2087.8 to $5091.75. However, these costs may vary.

Vaping and Oral Health 

E-cigarettes are just as harmful as regular cigarettes, even if they seem safer. Here are some of the ways vaping affects your oral health:

Cell Death 

A 2018 review found that vaping aerosols can damage DNA and cause inflammation in live human gum cells. These cells can stop growing and dividing, accelerating cell aging.

Cell aging can play a part in oral health issues like periodontal disease, dry mouth, tooth decay, bone loss, and more.

However, the results from the study are not necessarily applicable to real life since the cells were not in their natural environment. More research is required.

Gum Disease and Tooth Loss 

Most vape juices have lower nicotine content than traditional tobacco products; some don’t even have nicotine in them, depending on the user’s preference. However, this doesn’t mean you’re safe from the vaping effects on teeth.

Nicotine reduces blood flow to the gums and impairs our body’s natural ability to fight infections and replenish connective tissues. These conditions increase the risk of tooth loss and gum diseases, which can also lead to more severe diseases.

Excess Bacteria 

The sweeteners and flavorings in e-cig liquids help bacteria stick to the grooves of the teeth, increasing the number of bacteria present in the mouth and the biofilm growth rate. They also make teeth enamel softer b 27%.

These harmful effects, in combination with those caused by nicotine and other substances found in e-cigarette liquids, create the perfect environment for tooth decay, gum infections, and tooth loss.

Enamel and Soft Tissue Damage 

Other harmful vaping effects on teeth include weak enamel and soft tissue damage.

Propylene glycol (PG) is one of the main ingredients of vape juice. It’s safe to inhale and eat, but when taken orally, it breaks down into propionaldehyde and acids that damage the gums and irritate soft tissues in your mouth. It also dries out your mouth, causing an insufficient supply of saliva that can protect your gums and teeth from damage.

Water is the best way to alleviate a dry mouth, but it can’t replace saliva, which contains substances that prevent bacteria from damaging your teeth. Unfortunately, some people are more likely to drink sports drinks or sodas to relieve their mouth’s dryness. These drinks have high sugar content, which increases the risk of enamel erosion.

Gum Inflammation 

A study conducted in 2016 showed that e-cigs could trigger an inflammatory response within gum tissues, which leads to periodontal diseases.

Key Takeaway 

E-cigarettes are touted as a better alternative to traditional tobacco products, but they pose serious health risks, including gums and teeth. It’s still best to avoid tobacco products or use other ways to quit smoking.

Safeguard your oral health with Century Dental.

Our dentist near Treasure Island, FL, performs preventive dentistry services that help keep your teeth in excellent health at all times. Call us today for more information about our services or oral health concerns.

Picture of Dr. Abdullah M. Allawnha

Dr. Abdullah M. Allawnha

Dr. Allawnha, born in New Orleans and raised in Windsor, Canada, earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Windsor. He worked as an ER nurse in Detroit, Michigan, before moving to Morgantown, West Virginia, to become a dentist. He completed his Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from West Virginia University School of Dentistry while still working as a nurse until he graduated.

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