In addition to being harmful to your overall health, it is well known that smoking cigarettes can also be a destructive force to teeth and gums. Not only does it cause unsightly discoloration, but smoking and the use of nicotine products are a significant cause of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, and increase a person’s risk of tooth decay and tooth loss. To combat the many health complications that can arise by smoking cigarettes, the e-cigarette has become an increasingly popular option. But is it truly safer?
The e-cigarette, also known as an e-cig, vape stick, or vape pen, is an electronic cigarette that allows people to smoke vaporized nicotine (“vaping”) or non-nicotine chemical solutions. According to Medical News Today, e-cigarettes are particularly popular among middle- and high-school students and today are used by teenagers more than traditional cigarettes. Yet, studies have increasingly found that vaping is not the wholly safe alternative that it was once made out to be.
The Food and Drug Administration has not found any e-cigarette to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit. Nicotine, no matter what form it enters the body, is highly addictive and raises blood pressure, increasing a smoker’s chance of developing heart disease. Similar to the traditional cigarette’s impact on health, using e-cigarettes can also have detrimental effects on dental health.
Studies have found that people trying to quit smoking by vaping actually end up continuing to do both. A single Juul pod can contain as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes, and has the same averse effects as regular cigarettes, which includes reduced blood flow to the gums. This means the mouth cannot fight off bacteria, leading potentially to gum disease and a host of other oral health maladies such as infection, decay, tooth loss, receding gums, and oral cancer.
Even without the nicotine, a study by PLOS One found that the chemicals used in the flavorings in e-cigarettes can lead to chronic inflammation in the mouth and the possibility of DNA damage. The aerosols used in the e-juice have been found to have similar properties to high sucrose, gelatinous candies, and acidic drinks, which break down enamel and can lead to tooth decay.
Talk to your dentist if you are planning on, or already use, e-cigarettes. Vaping is generally thought to be less dangerous than traditional cigarettes, but there is truly no safe alternative, so you’ll want to make sure you know all the associated risks before “lighting up.”
See what Dr. Buhite has to say about vaping and oral health.