Vaping can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than traditional smoking. The problem is that vaping is thought to be a safer alternative to traditional tobacco products, and companies are adding ﬂavouring products to attract younger generations. The use of appealing ﬂavours is thought to be the primary reason that 81% of current youth e-cigarette users started in the ﬁrst place. Many advocates of vaping claim that e-cigarettes only pose 5% of the health risks compared to traditional tobacco smoking and they can help people to quit. Unfortunately, these studies have only analysed e-cigarette use in former smokers using vaping as a way to quit, and not looked at the health effects of non-smokers who start vaping because of there perceived harmless effects and attractive ﬂavours. In addition, these studies have not looked at vaping among school children, the group where e-cigarette use is increasing the most. And because of this, a tidal wave of oral health problems is expected to come with it.
E-cigarettes heat a liquid that generates an aerosol. The liquid in the e-cigarette (e-liquid), is usually made up of propylene glycol, glycerin, ﬂavourings, water, and nicotine.
The ﬁrst danger of e-cigarettes is associated with the carrier product known as propylene glycol, when used orally, it breaks down into acetic acid, lactic acid and propionaldehyde, which are all toxic to enamel and soft tissues. In addition, it is hygroscopic, which means water molecules in saliva and oral tissues will bond to it, leading to drying of the tissues and subsequent xerostomia, or “dry mouth,” which is known to increase the risk of tooth decay, gum disease and other oral health issues.
The second danger of e-cigarettes is associated with the other major components of e-liquid; glycerin and ﬂavourings. The thick nature of the e-liquid encourages bacteria to stick to the small recesses of the teeth, effectively allowing more cavity-causing bacteria to stick to a softer tooth, and cause rampant decay.
Another danger associated with e-cigarettes is the nicotine. Although the percentage of nicotine is much lower (0.3%–1.8%) than traditional tobacco products, one electronic cartridge (200–400 puffs) can equal the smoking of two to three packs of regular cigarettes. The dangerous effects of nicotine on gum tissues are well known, with a reduction in blood ﬂow, white blood cell production, white blood cell function, and other immune cell functions. In addition, it decreases the metabolism of connective tissues, resulting in a much higher risk of developing gum disease and tooth loss.
For more information on the risks of vaping, please ask for a copy of our ‘Vaping’ factfile available from the practice. If you would like advice on how to quit smoking or vaping, why not speak to one our dentists, hygienists or oral health educators. Call us today on 01452 727 665 to speak to our patient coordinator to arrange an appointment.