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E-Cigarettes Cause Damage to Oral Health

vapingAt Dr. Egger’s your oral health is our daily preoccupation. To that end, we also sometimes provide information to help you manage that oral health from your side. Because we see more and more young people using e-cigarettes, we thought we’d share some findings of a recent research study on e-cigarettes and oral health.

The links between cigarette smoking and issues such as mouth and tongue cancer, along with gum disease, have been known for a long time. But when e-cigarettes started showing up a few years ago there was some thought they would provide a possible less-damaging alternative that could help people quit smoking, or provide a better alternative to actual tobacco. New research, however, suggests “vaping” may be just as harmful as smoking to your oral health.

In a new study published in the journal Oncotarget, researchers found that the chemicals present in electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) vapor were equally as damaging, and in some cases, more damaging, to cells in the mouth as tobacco smoke.

What are e-cigarettes?

Because they don’t involve burning and inhaling actual tobacco and the chemicals it is laced with, e-cigarettes were initially thought to be an almost healthy alternative to real cigarettes. E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices about the size of a cigar or large pen. They contain a heating device and a cartridge that holds a liquid solution. When used, the heating device vaporizes the liquid, and the user inhales the vapor.

While they don’t contain actual tobacco, e-cigarettes still deliver an infusion of nicotine and other chemicals and flavoring agents. While assumed to be safer than inhaling actual tobacco, e-cigarettes have been on the market for such a short period that there isn’t any long-term research on the effects of vaping on human health.

Study shows surprising level of damage

To begin to shed some light on vaping and the health of your mouth, the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York conducted this study. The goal was to gauge the effect of e-cigarette vapor on oral health.

For the study, the research team exposed the gum tissue of nonsmokers to either tobacco- or menthol-flavored e-cigarette vapor. The tobacco-flavored vapor contained 16 milligrams of nicotine, while the menthol flavor contained 13-16 milligrams of nicotine or no nicotine.

The researchers found that all e-cigarette vapor damaged gum tissue cells in levels comparable or even above the damage caused by actual tobacco smoke.

This is how the study’s lead researcher, Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., described the findings, “We showed that when the vapors from an e-cigarette are burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins, which in turn aggravate stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to various oral diseases.”

The effects of nicotine on oral health are well known. Nicotine has long been linked to gum disease. But it appears e-cigarette flavoring actual exacerbates the cell damage, particularly with the menthol-flavored vapor.

So, if you know any young people who are into vaping or who are considering trying it, you may want to share this information with them. It appears that this newest fad should be one to be avoided for good oral health.

If you have questions about your dental health or need to make an appointment, give us a call at 989-773-3560.