Electronic cigarettes, commonly referred to as e-cigarettes or “vaping,” are just as bad for oral health as regular cigarettes, according to a study. Researchers found that the chemicals found in e-cigarettes were just as – if not more – harmful to mouth cells than tobacco smoke. E-cigarette use can contribute to a host of oral health problems, including tooth loss, mouth cancer, and gum disease.
E-cigarettes work by heating a liquid – usually made up of propylene glycol, glycerin, water, flavorings, and nicotine – to create an aerosol that the user inhales. While e-cigarette users tend to have lower blood nicotine concentrations than smokers of traditional cigarettes, it is hard to make an accurate comparison because nicotine concentrations in e-cigarettes vary so widely.
The study tested the effects of e-cigarettes by exposing a 3D model of human, non-smoker gum tissue to different e-cigarette flavors available to smokers. The researchers used an e-cigarette and two flavors: classic tobacco and magnificent menthol. The study found that both flavors inflame the gum cell and decrease cell regeneration. The menthol flavor was found to cause more harm than the tobacco flavor.
Other studies have found that nicotine —ingested via traditional cigarette or e-cigarettes — harms the gums, mouth, and tongue. A study in the Journal of the Indian Society of Periodontology reported that nicotine might contribute to the development of gingivitis, a form of gum disease, and periodontitis, a serious gum infection that destroys the jaw and can lead to inflammation throughout the body.
Nicotine causes your blood vessels to narrow, reducing the amount of blood that can flow to your organs. Insufficient blood flow means that your gums do not get the oxygen they need to stay healthy. Nicotine deprives tissues in the mouth from the blood it needs, causing gum tissues to die. Nicotine also decreases your ability to produce saliva. A lack of saliva can lead to bacteria buildup, bad breath, dry mouth, and tooth decay.
The leader of the e-cigarette study, which was published in the journal Oncotarget, noted that there is limited data on the effect of e-cigarettes on oral health, especially the long-term effects as e-cigarettes are a relatively new phenomenon.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated in 2014 that because e-cigarettes haven’t been adequately studied, consumers don’t know the potential health risks involved and how much nicotine or other harmful chemicals their e-cigarette contains.
If you are a smoker and are concerned about your oral health, don’t be afraid of the dentist. Instead, contact a compassionate and knowledgeable dental team like the one at Babylon Dental Care. We’ll be here to make sure that you get the regular checkups, cleaning, and dental care that you need, and we will be ready to answer any questions you have about smoking and your oral health. Call us at (631) 983-2937 to schedule an appointment with us today.