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Can E-Cigarettes Impact Oral Health?

Over the past few years, e-cigarettes or “vaping” has become increasingly popular. And while the companies that market and sell vaping devices claim that their products are a much healthier way to “smoke,” the jury is out with regard to the health effects of electronic cigarettes. While it’s true that they are obviously different than smoking or chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes are still a nicotine delivery system, and nicotine is one of the most highly addictive substances available.

There is very little research available on the effects of vaping products, primarily because e-cigarettes are such a new phenomenon. The fact is that we know very little about how these devices may impact your health, but we do know that they contain a battery-powered heating element that vaporizes a mixture of nicotine, chemicals and other additives, and delivers that mixture directly into the person’s mouth.

The NIDCR (The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research) recently proposed conducting research on vaping devices and how they may affect the health of the user. The proposed study, which includes the theme “Effects of E-cigarette Aerosol Mixtures on Oral and Periodontal Epithelia,” would provide dental and health care professionals with valuable information on what the aerosol mixture delivered by e-cigarettes is doing to gum tissue and teeth. Professionals at the research agency believe that vaping could, in fact, increase the user’s risk for developing gum disease and oral cancer, and because of that this research is urgently needed.

Although we may not fully understand the possible dangers of vaping, we do know all too well the negative effects of smoking and chewing tobacco. These more traditional nicotine delivery systems not only stain your teeth and leave you with bad breath; they also increase your risk for developing tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer. E-cigarettes also deliver nicotine, in addition to other chemicals, directly into a person’s mouth. So it’s not too far of a stretch to assume that vaping is not exactly a healthy habit. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, and it is the nicotine that smokers and tobacco chewers crave. Since vaping is simply another form of nicotine delivery, if you’re trying to end your addiction to nicotine, e-cigarettes would not be the answer.

Until we know more about vaping, it might be a good idea to approach this recent craze with some caution. While there’s no doubt that vaping is different from smoking or chewing tobacco in the traditional way, the end results may very well be similar.