I have to admit I was shocked when during a recent mother-daughter talk my 7th grader told me “yeah, there’s a kid in our class that vapes using e-cigarettes.” Part of my shock was from recognizing my daughter was growing up. Part of it was because I am a dentist.
An e-cigarette is a lithium ion battery operated device delivering flavored, inhalable nicotine. The heat element inside of the cigarette aerosolizes the liquid – essentially creating an aerosol substitute for traditional smoke.
There are 4 primary chemicals in an e-aerosol:
- Propylene Glycol
- Vegetable Glycerin
And, know that quality control on the ingredients are still developing, which means impurities are not uncommon.
Packaging is one factor drawing e-smokers into the lair. Maple Pancake and Gummy Bear flavored vapes are obviously not designed to communicate the dangers. Therefore, vaping has become a gateway drug.
According to Bloomberg in this article, e-Cigarettes have led to more new, younger smokers than the number of current smokers they have helped kick the habit. Vapes comes in fruity flavors, which the article suggests lure more people into smoking than in helping current smokers quit.
But what about the impacts to your oral health?
Dental impacts include:
- E-cigs still have nicotine. Nicotine is a critical risk factor in the development of periodontal or gum disease. Here’s how. Nicotine impedes the blood flow to gum tissues and negatively impacts immune cell function. Less blood and lowered immune defense add up to higher risk of gum disease.
- Tobacco = cancer risk. Studies have indelibly linked the use of tobacco – of any kind – to various cancers. Using tobacco or tobacco substitutes – even in vapor form – increases the risk of cancer of the mouth.
- Tobacco = increased tooth wear. If you are a tobacco or tobacco substitute user and are lucky enough not to get cancer, there are other side effects that you may find. These include increased tooth abrasion or wear, tooth stains and decreased ability for oral wounds to heal.
- Fruity flavors equal SUGAR! We all know too much sugar sitting on teeth increases your risk of tooth decay.
So next time you reach for an e-cig or vape, expect that you will eventually make a trip to the dentist and he or she may tell you this: “You’ve got gum disease which has started because your habit has cut off the blood flow and neutrophil and collagen production to your gums. You are going to need to see a specialist. This is going to be unpleasant.”