Our commitment to helping our patients reach and maintain outstanding oral and overall health includes providing information on the oral health risks of smoking conventional cigarettes and vaping (using electronic cigarettes). Some people believe vaping to be a safer option than smoking, but growing evidence links it to health risks just as significant as those of regular cigarettes.

What risks does vaping pose to oral health?

A recent study at University of Rochester Medical Center explains that vapors from electronic cigarettes burn and trigger inflammation in the user’s oral cells. This puts his or her entire mouth at risk of disease. Some flavoring chemicals within electronic cigarettes can also cause harm to the gums and palate by stimulating inflammation and/or ulceration in those areas.

Xerostomia (dry mouth), which some electronic cigarette users may experience, can lead to an increased rate of tooth decay. And nicotine—one of the addictive ingredients in conventional cigarettes—also exists in electronic cigarettes. Regardless of its delivery method, research shows, nicotine itself can heighten the risk of periodontal issues because it can damage gum tissue.

Which flavoring chemicals are harmful?

Cinnamon flavor (cinnamaldehyde) is a specifically harmful flavoring chemical, and it is found in both cinnamon-flavored and cola-flavored electronic cigarettes. During a study at the University of North Carolina, healthy human volunteers allowed researchers to collect immune cells and expose them to various electronic cigarette flavoring liquids. The research team discovered that cinnamaldehyde was especially effective at suppressing the ability of the cells to function properly.

Among electronic cigarette users, who is at the greatest risk?

Because more young people than adults use electronic cigarettes, they are currently at the greatest risk. According to a CDC survey, 24% of high school students were using electronic cigarettes in 2015, compared to only 3.5% of adults.

Are electronic cigarettes recommended to help conventional cigarette users stop smoking?

No. For smoking cessation, the FDA has approved certain products, but electronic cigarettes are not among them.

If you have questions or concerns about your oral health due to smoking or vaping, please call us for an appointment.

References
University of Rochester Medical Center. (2016, November 16). First-ever study shows e-cigarettes cause damage to gum tissue. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 12, 2016 from Science Daily, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161116155511.htm

Raloff, J. (2016, March 05). Vaping linked to host of new health risks. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from Science News, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/vaping-linked-host-new-health-risks

Collins, J. (2016, June 28). The oral effects of vaping: Patient education. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from Dentistry IQ, http://www.dentistryiq.com/articles/2016/06/the-oral-effects-of-vaping-patient-education.html

Nearly Two-Thirds of E-Cigarette Users Also Smoke: CDC. (2016, October 30). Retrieved December 12, 2016, from Health Day, https://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/electronic-cigarettes-970/nearly-two-thirds-of-current-smokers-also-use-e-cigs-cdc-716290.html

Wheeler, R. The Vape Debate: What You Need to Know. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/features/vape-debate-electronic-cigarettes