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Dentistry, Patient information
16th February 2020  •  Read 0 times

E-cigarettes, vaping and oral health

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have rapidly become a fashionable alternative to smoking.  Its popularity has continued to soar with a 12.5% rise in the last year to approximately 3.6 million people vaping in the UK. This is in large part because people believe they are safe to use. Emerging evidence, however, suggests that this anything but true.

What’s in E-Cigarettes?

E-cigarettes contains a solution that comprises three main components: diluents, flavourings and nicotine. The majority (around 90 percent) of the solution is made up of the diluent, which is usually propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine and it is this which accounts for most of the ‘vapour’ production. Varying doses of Nicotine is present from 0 to 36mg/ml. As the nicotine and diluent are largely tasteless, flavourings are often added. There are over 7000 different flavours available including tobacco, menthol, coffee and fruit.

How do they work?

E-cigarettes work by heating up a nicotine-containing liquid to produce vapour instead of smoke (hence the term “vaping”). As vaping doesn’t involve the burning of tobacco, users can avoid inhaling many cancer-causing chemicals found in regular cigarettes. As such E-cigarette manufacturers claim that vaping is a safe alternative to smoking tobacco.

However, there are a number of health problems associated with the use of nicotine vaporising devices.

The Effects of E-Cigarettes on the Body

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently warned against the use of e-cigarettes, advising they increase the risk of heart disease and lung disorders. The WHO also noted that vaping was particularly risky for the developing brains of teenagers and could damage a growing foetus.

The Effects of E-Cigarettes on the Mouth 

The oral effects of vaping can include inflammation of the mouth and lips, fungal growth, dry mouth, burns, altered taste, bad breath, painful tongue, and an increased risk of tooth decay. People who vape also see a 27% decrease in tooth enamel hardness, Other studies report a link between gum disease and vaping in addition to an increased tooth decay risk likely associated with the flavouring and additives of the e-cigarette solution. One research study has suggested that e-cigarettes are as equally damaging to gums and teeth as conventional cigarettes.

Nicotine

Though nicotine vapour in e-cigarettes does not contain the deadly chemicals found in tobacco smoke, it is still harmful. On its own, nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug and works as stimulant, making smokers more alert whilst also increasing their heart rate and blood pressure. As with many stimulants, overuse of nicotine can lead to teeth grinding and reduced blood flow. Teeth grinding damages tooth enamel and can cause cracks and fractures. Reduced blood can mask inflammation and bleeding in the early stages of gum disease.

Whilst e-cigarettes are no-doubt harmful as advised by the WHO, they have not been around long enough for us to fully study and understand their long-term potential health impacts. Whilst cigarette smoke is likely worse for your health than e-cigarette vapour, it does not mean e-cigarettes are safe to use. There is little evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers to quit and tobacco users looking to give up should use safer, proven and licensed products. 

If you want more explanation on the harmful effects of e-cigarettes do not hesitate to contact OSD Healthcare to call 01442 331 900 to arrange an appointment with one of our dentists.

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About the author
Dr Ian Arad

Specialist Orthodontist

Dr Ian Arad is a passionate orthodontist and prides himself on providing excellent orthodontic treatment and personalised care. He is meticulous in his approach to treatment and works hard to give patients their desired outcome. He works both in private practice and the NHS.

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