Starting in 2007, when the first e-cigarette was introduced in America, the claim made by e-cigarette manufacturers has been that vaping was a harmless alternative to cigarette smoking, and that was a claim that intuitively made sense. The American Lung Association says that the average cigarette contains 600 ingredients which, when burned, create more than 7,000 chemicals, many of which are cancer-causing or toxic. Surely, e-cigarettes had to be less dangerous than that.
Initially, e-cigarette manufacturers sold consumers on vaping by promoting the idea that the liquid used was little more than flavored water with a touch of nicotine. Manufacturers sold e-cigarettes as being “safer than cigarettes” and “totally safe,” even making that claim to students at school presentations.
In September 2019, after hundreds of people were hospitalized with lung injuries and after several deaths, the Centers for Disease Control recommended that the public refrain from using e-cigarettes or vaping.
Clearly, the unproven safety claims were false, at least when it came to lung health. But vaping also causes harm in other areas which are not widely discussed, specifically harming one’s oral health.
Damage to Teeth
There are several ways vaping can damage teeth, the first of which is heat. According to Health
magazine’s interview with Dr. Mathew Messina, a spokesperson for the American Dental
Association, vaping provides “heat in the mouth which changes the bacterial presence in the
mouth. It dries the mouth out.”
The warmer temperatures create an environment favorable to harmful bacteria, resulting in an
increase in tooth decay, bone loss, inflamed tissue, and susceptibility to infection.
Additionally, the nicotine in e-cigarettes can discolor teeth to the same degree as real cigarettes.
Dr. Messina said, “Nicotine will stain teeth. It also sticks to the enamel and makes It rougher so
that plaque will stick more readily and build up.”
Healthline states that vaping can also cause dry mouth, a contributor to tooth decay. The dry
mouth is caused by, among other things, propylene glycol (PG)—a liquid containing two alcohol
groups that has a sweet taste and is frequently used in food processing—and vegetable glycerin.
While PG has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for ingestion, not much
is known about their effects when inhaled. What is known is that the PG aerosol breaks down
into acetic acid, lactic acid and propionaldehyde, all of which can deteriorate tooth enamel and
Damage to Gums
Nicotine has long been known to be damaging to gums. By restricting blood flow, nicotine
deprives the gums of the oxygen and nutrients needed to stay healthy. Without proper blood
flow, gum tissue can die, causing the gums to recede.
Even more diabolical, nicotine can mask gum disease. Normally, one symptom of gum disease is
inflammation, which results in an increased flow of blood to the gums, causing them to swell
and become irritated. Brushing or flossing will often cause gums to bleed.
Because nicotine reduces blood flow, diseased gums can look normal, even to a dentist. The gum
disease worsens, all the while going undiagnosed and undetected.
Oral Surgery Complications
Whether it’s tobacco or e-cigarettes, smoking has always been a concern when undergoing any
type of surgery. The danger begins with anesthesia. Once sedated, those who smoke or vape,
may begin coughing—often, right in the middle of a procedure—which can be dangerous
when the dentist is performing an invasive procedure or when using a drill.
As mentioned earlier, nicotine also restricts blood flow and reduces the body’s ability to carry
oxygen to organs and tissues, which is crucial during recovery from any type of surgery. The
shortage of oxygen and blood flow can cause infections to develop.
Not specific to oral health, it should be mentioned that, in 2018, the FDA banned the use of the
chemical pulegone as a food additive. Pulegone, which was used as a flavoring substance, was
found to be a carcinogen. Today, however, pulegone is being used in menthol-flavored
e-cigarettes, and at much higher levels than in menthol tobacco cigarettes.
In 2018, the American Heart Association (AMA), found that nine chemical flavorings—menthol,
burnt flavor, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, butter, strawberry, banana, and spicy cooling—all had a
negative effect on the heart, specifically on endothelial cells, which line blood vessels and the
inside of the heart. The nine flavors also caused increased inflammation and a loss of nitric
oxide, changes which occur leading up to heart attacks and strokes.
The following year, 2019, the American Journal of Cardiology also found some of the flavors
increased molecules linked to DNA damage and cell death, with cinnamon and menthol flavors
also reducing the ability of cells to promote the growth of new blood vessels.
Not surprisingly, e-cigarettes are attractive to teens, just as real cigarettes were generations ago. The many flavors of the e-juice—such as mint, coffee, chocolate, and candy and fruit flavors—are especially appealing to a young crowd. The minimum age to buy e-cigarettes is between 18 and 21 depending on the state (it’s currently 18 in Arizona); however, vape products and accessories are readily available online with little in the way of checking the age of the purchaser.
Parents have an increasingly hard time knowing if their children are vaping. Vape doesn’t smell like a cigarette. Instead, it can smell like the flavor of the juice—peppermint, coffee, cherry, and many more. Additionally, vaping devices look very much like other objects a teen or child would carry—pens, USB drives, or lipstick—and can be concealed in the drawstrings of hoodies and backpacks.
Kids start vaping at a younger age than they start smoking real cigarettes. Recent statistics show that the rate of vaping is 9.5% of 8th graders, 14% of 10th graders, and 16.2% of 12th graders. Besides the health risks inherent in vaping, 30.7% of e-cigarette users start smoking tobacco products within six months of when they start vaping. Plus, 7 out of 10 kids are exposed to e-cigarette ads, which make the products seem very appealing to youngsters.
It’s been known for many decades that cigarettes and tobacco products have negative health effects. Now, with the widespread use of e-cigarettes, those negative effects are an even bigger concern, especially when it comes to oral health.
The best way to ensure good oral health is to visit your dentist every six months for a checkup and be certain to tell your dentist if you smoke or vape.
Top dentists, like Dr. Brei, will take your smoking and vaping history into consideration and will look for potential issues that might otherwise go undetected. That’s why it’s best to see a skilled professional like Dr. Brei and his highly trained staff.
There are many ways to get in touch with the office of Dr. Brei. You can make an appointment via email at email@example.com, call them at 520-325-9000, or click here to book online and schedule an appointment directly. Schedule today with the office of Dr. Brei today!