Vaping and Oral Health
Electronic cigarettes and vaping devices originally were marketed as tobacco smoking cessation devices. However the e-cigarette has appealed to young people who had no history of tobacco use and never intended to start smoking tobacco. Just recently, the dangers of vaping have come to the forefront of news media due to the serious lung illnesses developed by these otherwise healthy young people. Due to the initial lack of research, consumers have been put at risk and the mouth, being the gateway to the body, is affected first in the potentially dangerous pathway of vaping.
At first, it was commonly suggested that the smoke, or vapor, they produce was harmless water vapor. Now it has been revealed that the vapor not only contains nicotine (even though it is in smaller doses than traditional cigarettes) but other known toxic chemicals. Firstly, we know the effect of nicotine on oral tissues very well. In these smaller doses, nicotine still causes the same affects including the possibility of oral cancer. Vaping aerosol increases cell death and damages DNA (in vitro) where the tissue cells lose the ability to divide and grow.
The carrier liquid inside the cartridges contains propylene glycol, which is commonly found in processed foods. This base liquid causes dry mouth, which is associated with bad breath, tooth decay, and mouth sores. This substance can trigger an inflammatory response in the mouth and throat. Ongoing inflammation in the gums is associated with periodontal disease and progresses to tooth loss.
One study in 2018 found that exposure to the vapor caused excess bacteria to adhere to teeth and was greater in the deep grooves and pits. Glycerin is the ingredient in e-cigarettes that increased the bacteria biofilm by double compared to teeth not exposed to vapor. This bacteria build up is associated with increased tooth decay.
The final issue with e-cigarettes is the danger of explosion. Between 2009 and 2016, there have been 195 documented incidents of lithium battery fire and explosion. Some of these injuries have been disfiguring to the smoker’s face and mouth. Others have suffered burns to legs and hands from the devices exploding in pant pockets.
Ongoing research will help us more fully understand all the negative effects vaping has on human health. As of today, the dangers of vaping are understood enough to not recommend starting the habit. At Martin Dentistry a full examination includes checking the soft tissues for signs of disease, including cancer. Radiographs are also included to check for changes in the bone and tooth structure. Our doctors and hygienists will be happy to answer any questions you may have.