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Dental Care & e-Cigarettes

Extensive research has begun on electronic cigarettes and the overall damage to user’s health.

Electronic Cigarettes and Dental ProblemsSince the use of electronic cigarettes has grown the past few years, the amount of research into health conditions and side effects has also increased. Recently, researchers exposed a large number of mouth cells to e-cigarette vapor in the laboratory, only to find that the cells died within a few days.

Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigs or e-cigarettes, have been advertised as a safer option to smoking, giving smokers their nicotine fix without the cancer-causing side effects of tobacco. However, research is beginning to show that there dangers to your health, possibly more than we have yet to realize.

What is an E-Cigarette?

E-Cigarettes are battery-powered devices that convert a mix of liquid nicotine, distilled water, flavoring ingredients and other chemicals to cause a vapor. Because there is no tobacco, these products are easier to access and are not subject to the same regulations as cigarettes.

The Debate on Health Concerns

While there is plenty of controversy over regulations and to what extent, it’s best to look at the research that has been done to make educated decisions for ourselves. Below we will discuss some of the most common concerns regarding oral health and the effects of e-cigs.

Nicotine & Saliva

This intake of nicotine affects a body’s ability to produce a sufficient amount of saliva in the mouth, causing “dry mouth’. Dry mouth then in turn causes a build-up of bacteria that isn’t washed away. This increases the risk of halitosis (bad breath) and periodontal (gum) disease, later leading into additional problems such as sore & bleeding gums or even the loss of teeth.

Nicotine Addiction

Because e-cigs are marketed as a “safer alternative” to smoking cigarettes or tobacco use, participants are often only looking at the advertised “pros” of e-cig usage. However, this does not change the fact that addictive nicotine is still being used.
A nicotine cartridge in an e-cig can potentially provide 200 to 400 puffs, equivalent to two to three packs of cigarettes. Depending on the frequency of puffing, depth of inhalation or length of vaping, e-cig users may actually absorb higher concentrations of nicotine than conventional smokers.

Harmful Chemicals

The FDA had announced previously that findings from a laboratory analysis showed that e-cig users were exposed to harmful chemicals. One small sample of cartridges from two leading brands were found to contain diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze. Other samples during research have found harmful ingredients such as diacetyl (chemical linked to lung disease), metals like nickel, chromium, tin, and lead, and other ultra-fine particles.

With new information and research coming in regularly, a definitive answer will not be made for some time and the controversy on regulation will continue.  For now, it is best for healthcare providers and parents to address the topic of e-cigs when speaking on smoking and tobacco use, and discourage the use of any smoking or tobacco use for the protection of your dental and overall health.

If you have questions, contact your local dentist and they will be happy to answer any questions you may have.