Electronic cigarettes employ a mechanism to heat up liquid nicotine, which turns into a vapor that smokers inhale and exhale, a process known as “vaping.” While e-cigs do not contain tobacco, they do contain nicotine, which is harmful to the body and is associated with toxicity and addiction.
WHAT ARE E-CIGARETTES & VAPING?
E-cigarettes are electronic nicotine-delivery systems (ENDS) that consist of a cartridge containing nicotine and propylene glycol, an atomizer, and a battery. When a user inhales, a pressure-sensitive circuit is activated, which heats the atomizer and vaporizes the liquid as it is brought through the mouthpiece. The vapor consists of a fine mist that does not contain smoke or carbon monoxide and disperses more quickly than traditional cigarette smoke. The act of using ENDS is often called “vaping”
Each nicotine cartridge in an e-cig can provide 200 to 400 puffs, equivalent to two to three packs of cigarettes. Because of the frequency of puffing, inhalation, and length of vaping, users may actually absorb higher concentrations of nicotine and other toxins than conventional tobacco smokers.
TRADITIONAL CIGARETTES vs. E-CIGARETTES
Electronic cigarettes have become a very popular alternative to the traditional cigarette. Concerned about a brighter smile and better health, many smokers now turn to e-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) as an alternative to conventional cigarettes made of rolled paper and dried tobacco leaves. We know that cigarettes pose a risk to our oral health. Smoking a cigarette can cause teeth discoloration (yellow), plaque buildup, bad breath, and cancer. There are several other harmful chemicals inside cigarettes that not only cause dental health problems, but overall health problems such as lung cancer. Smokers looking for an alternative to traditional cigarettes are now turning to E-cigarettes, short for electronic cigarettes and also known as Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS). E-cigarettes provide doses of vaporized substances to the user in an aerosol form. The devices contain a heating element that vaporizes a liquid solution. Depending on the brand of e-cigarettes, the liquid solutions may contain nicotine and flavorings. Nicotine stains teeth. Nicotine inhalation puts the dental health and overall well-being of a person at risk. The main difference between e-cigs and conventional cigarettes is that e-cigs do not contain tobacco, although they do contain nicotine, which is harmful to the body and is associated with toxicity and addiction.
Many users of c-cigarettes are unaware of the fact that many brands of e-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals, including formaldehyde, or embalming fluid, and antifreeze, chemicals associated with cancer risks when inhaled. Researchers have found that some flavoring substances found in vape liquid can cause permanent, and sometimes fatal scar buildup in the lungs. The flavoring and compounds in commercial vapes contain the chemical diacetyl, which can destroy the lungs’ smallest airways, resulting in a condition known as bronchiolitis obliterans, or more commonly referred to as “popcorn lung”, which can have dangerous implications.
ORAL HEALTH CONCERNS
The fact is that e-cigs, like its traditional predecessor, can cause periodontal diseases as a result of nicotine ingestion. One harmful effect is that nicotine inhalation inhibits your ability to produce saliva, which can leave you susceptible to bacteria buildup, dry mouth, and tooth decay. Nicotine also has the tendency to stimulate the contraction of the muscular wall of the blood vessels, resulting in reduced blood flow, and the reduces the body’s innate ability to heal and generate new cells. Patients using e-cigs have reported mouth irritation, dry mouth, sore throat, and mouth ulcers. In addition, case reports have indicated that additional health risks of e-cigs include pneumonia, tachycardia, congestive heart failure, seizure, airway resistance, and burns from exploding devices.
There have not been a sufficient amount of studies on e-cigs to make a solid conclusion on the long-term effects on the body and oral cavity, the effects on the environment, and the possible dangers of inhaling vapors second hand. It is quite clear that more research is still needed in this area in order for people to make informed decisions and for the public’s safety.
Regardless of whether e-cigarettes are promoted as a “healthier” alternative to smoking, any form of nicotine puts your teeth, gums, and jaw at risk for dental health problems. The real fact is that just like with traditional cigarettes, periodontal disease is a very real result of ingesting any form of nicotine into the body. The best method of preventing periodontal disease is to floss regularly, avoid nicotine, visit a dentist regularly, and eat well. If you have any questions about how e-cigarette can specifically affect your gums, teeth, consult your dentist right away.
Call your dentist or orthodontist today to schedule a consultation for all your specific dental needs.