Vaping. Finally, a healthy alternative to smoking, right? Not so fast. What do we really know about vaping? The answer is not much. Before you go calling me a party pooper, let’s take a closer look at vaping.
In a traditional cigarette, fire burns tobacco releasing nicotine-filled smoke that is inhaled. In “e-cigs”, a nicotine-laced liquid is heated electronically (by a battery). Instead of smoke, a vapor (steam) cloud is produced. It’s this cloud that is inhaled delivering a dose of nicotine, hence the term “vaping” rather than smoking. Another difference between e-cigs and traditional cigarettes is that the amount of nicotine can be adjusted. This in an advantage for smokers who are trying to quit. They can gradually cut down the amount of nicotine until they can leave it alone all together.
We have decades of research dating back to the 1960’s of the effects of smoking on the human body including oral health. Of course, the biggy is oral cancer, but there is also gum disease, dry mouth, bad breath, nicotine-stained teeth, etc.
To date, we only have two to three years’ worth of research on vaping.
In 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that “e-cigarettes have not been fully studied, so consumers currently don’t know the potential risks of e-cigarettes when used as intended, how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during use, or whether there are any benefits associated with using these products.” Clinical studies are in progress at the moment to understand e-cigarettes’ impact on health — so until these are out, there’s a lack of definitive research on the health effects and still much we can’t know for sure.
Keep in mind that e-cigarettes still deliver nicotine, even if it’s in smaller doses than traditional cigarettes. Studies have shown that nicotine — whether delivered via traditional cigarette or other means — does harm to the mouth, gums and tongue. What’s even worse is that because nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, it can camouflage gum disease by restricting excessive blood flow to the gums, a tell-tale sign of gum disease.
So what’s the bottom line? If you are a smoker looking for a “healthier” alternative or better yet, a tool to help you stop smoking, vaping has its pros. Other than that, I can see nothing but cons. Unfortunately, many nonsmokers who would never dream of picking up a cigarette have become addicted to harmful nicotine thinking that e-cigs are completely harmless. This is especially true of teenagers who are attracted to the many enticing flavors that can be added to the vapor.
One thing I can say for sure is that if you are a smoker or a vaper, you especially need to see a dentist regularly so that he can check for signs of gum disease. We at Apple Dental understand that a nicotine addiction is hard to beat. We don’t judge; we just do our best to help you maintain a healthy smile. Call us today.