Long-term smokers know the risks associated with tobacco use such as lung cancer, oral cancer, and gum disease. But what about e-cigarettes? Are they a healthier option? Although people often think of e-cigarettes as benign, research is showing that there are still harmful risks involved.
We all know that cigarettes are bad for our health bur here are answers to a few questions you may have:
How Do E-Cigarettes Work?
An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that uses aerosol to deliver nicotine to the lungs. This aerosol takes the form of a vapor that the user inhales (hence the term vaping instead of smoking because e-cigarettes don’t emit any smoke). Many people think the vapor is simply water particles, but in fact, these aerosol particles contain harmful chemicals.
What Are the Health Risks?
It is true that e-cigarettes do not contain tar or carbon monoxide, two dangerous components of the cigarette. But this doesn’t mean they are healthy. The first concern is the lack of information. Since vaping is a relatively new phenomenon there has not been extensive research into the risks and dangers involved with the various chemicals used in their products. But research is starting and is yielding some concerning results:
- Quality control is an issue. Some studies have found discrepancies between the amounts of nicotine cited on the label compared to the amount actually in the product.
- Tobacco-free does not mean nicotine free. All of the dangers associated with nicotine are still present in e-cigarettes.
- They contain other toxic chemicals. These chemicals have been shown to be addictive and contain cancer-causing carcinogens.
How Do E-Cigarettes Affect My Oral Health?
Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes can cause problems for your oral health:
- They contain stimulants. These stimulants can increase teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Chronic grinding or clenching can lead to cracks and fractures in the tooth, loosening of teeth or even tooth loss.
- They inhibit the production of saliva. Saliva is an important part of the mouth’s natural ability to fight bacteria. Less saliva means more bacteria, which will contribute to increased tooth day and can cause dry mouth.
- They are hazardous to your gum health. The nicotine and chemicals in e-cigarettes reduce blood flow in the veins. This blood flow delivers the oxygen and nutrients your gums need to stay healthy. As gum tissue dies, your gums will recede making you more susceptible to gum disease.
- They hide the symptoms of gum disease. One of the tell-tale signs of gum disease is red, swollen or bleeding gums. The reduced blood flow caused by vaping e-cigarettes may mask these symptoms, but they do not decrease the actual disease. Less visible symptoms could delay diagnosis allowing the condition to become more severe and significantly affect your oral health.
How Can Our Office Help?
Talk to us. Whether you vape on a daily basis, or only from time to time, it’s important that you let us know. We will help you establish an appropriate oral hygiene routine and may recommend additional visits to monitor your teeth and gums.
To schedule an appointment, please call us at 440-354-0705 or contact us online.
Patrick J. Soria, DDS
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