Old Nicotine Habits Die Hard
The conventional cigarette industry is in decline. The number of active smokers in the United States has been shrinking for decades.
Coupled with persistent regulation at the Federal level, and a negative public attitude towards cigarette use in public spaces, the future doesn’t look bright for conventional tobacco products.
In 2018 a new record was set for the lowest number of active smokers in the United States. Perhaps more tellingly, smoking amongst youth is dramatically in decline with high school students smoking down at around 10 percent.
It would seem with these stats that cigarette makers are having trouble finding new audiences for their products.
But old nicotine habits die hard.
Flossing and regular visits to Willow Pass Dental Care for checkups are also highly recommended, but brushing is the foundation for an effective dental hygiene routine.
Brushing your teeth is the cornerstone of a healthy dental hygiene routine. We have been taught, told, and exhorted to brush our teeth from the emergence of our very first tooth.
Recent headlines would suggest that sparkling water might not be such a great alternative to just plain old water. But is bubbly, carbonated water really that bad?
Cigarette, Chewing Tobacco, ... and Vaping
While cigarette, cigars, and chewing tobacco products are in decline, vaping, or e-cigarette use is on the rise. The e-cigarette market has been on fire as of late.
According to the Associated Press (AP), the e-cigarette market is projected to hit $44.6 billion within the next four years.
Perhaps more worrisome for parents and health advocates, much of that growth has occurred with young adults and teenagers who often refer to vaping as “JUULing.”
According to data from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), nearly half of all high school students have tried e-cigarettes. Data from the CDC suggests that 13.5% of middle school students and 37.7% of high school students have used e-cigarettes. This is unsurprising considering the flavor profiles popularized by JUUL and other vape juice manufacturers who have focused on promoting and selling products with sweet and fruity flavors preferred by teens and children.
Another important talking point pushed by vape makers and big tobacco companies which own many e-cigarette brands is the idea that e-cigarettes are safer than conventional tobacco products. The theory goes that because vaping does not require the burning of toxic materials or the chewing of chemical-laden tobacco products, it should be a safe alternative.
From my perspective as a Prosthodontist and oral health professional, nothing could be further from the truth. E-cigarette use, vaping, and JUULing still pumps users full of nicotine and more than likely contain other potentially harmful substances.
Recent reports suggest that e-cigarette and vape juice makers are themselves engaged in an arms race to pack their products with ever more nicotine. While there is some truth to the idea that vaping may aid existing smokers with tobacco cessation, there is also significant evidence that the recent vaping trend may even be harmful towards a person’s oral health.
Vaping is No Smoke, But For Sure Fire
We all know that smoking and chewing tobacco is detrimental to our oral health and the health of our bodies and well-being. There are decades of research and indisputable evidence that points towards tobacco use as an expensive and dangerous habit with no benefits. As people become more health conscious, it only makes sense that tobacco use should decline.
E-cigarettes, at first glance, gives the appearance to offer the same "buzz" or dose of nicotine without the harmful side effects of inhaling dangerous chemicals and substances. Superficially, vaping appears to be a harmless habit until you look at the research. While there may not be a metaphorical cloud of smoke indicating immediate life-threatening danger, that doesn’t mean you won’t get burned by e-cigarettes.
Vaping is Dangerous With Deadly Side Effects
One of the most compelling and pervasive cases against vaping is the use of nicotine. Many vape juice or JUUL pod manufacturers have purposely increased the concentration of nicotine in their products in a bid to outdo one another. Nicotine is highly addictive, and one of the primary reasons tobacco users have such a hard time quitting.
While the addictiveness of nicotine is in itself highly problematic, the drug also has several severe negative health consequences. Chronic nicotine use and addiction lead to type II diabetes and dangerous insulin resistance. Developing diabetes can be devastating for most people and significantly limit not only a person’s lifestyle and quality of life but also their overall lifespan.
Nicotine use also increases heart rate and blood pressure which can indirectly trigger or increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. Furthermore, nicotine use is directly linked to higher chances of developing a variety of deadly cancers such as breast cancer, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, esophageal cancer, and oral cancer. This is particularly true for newer vaporizers which heat liquids to higher temperatures and cause the formation of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.
Early studies suggest that vaping can also damage the cellular structure of your blood cells, and acts as an immunosuppressant. Many of the effects of nicotine use are systemic in nature and may not be readily apparent to vape users.
E-Cigs Are Bad For Your Mouth
Like smoking, many of the most obvious health effects of vaping can be seen in a user’s mouth. The term “smoker’s breath” is a truism that points towards the noticeably degraded oral health of most if not all smokers. Longtime tobacco users had to contend with bad breath, or halitosis, as a result of chronic periodontal disease, rotting teeth, and gums and accelerated bacterial growth in their mouths as a result of their tobacco habits.
Oral Problems and Vaper's Breath
Unfortunately for vape users, it appears that vaping instead of smoking does not help them avoid the same fate. Given enough time, the term “vaper’s breath” may also find coinage in the mainstream.
Oral problems caused by vaping or the use of e-cigarettes include:
Soft tissue and gum irritation
Increased Microbial Adhesion on teeth
Vaping is, simply put, terrible for your mouth.
Like cigarettes, vaping can expose your teeth, gums, and soft lining of your mouth to irritating harmful chemicals. Also like cigarette use, vaping can cause dry mouth, suppress the immune system, and reduce the capacity of your body to regulate itself. Irritation and suppression of normal bodily functions can spell disaster for your mouth.
Periodontal Disease, Dry Mouth, Cavities, & Poor Oral Health
Dry mouth, for example, is a condition that occurs when your salivary glands do not produce enough saliva. Saliva helps to wash away bacteria and delivers essential minerals to teeth. When saliva production is hampered, bacterial growth skyrockets leading to periodontal disease, cavities, and poor oral health.
Chemicals found in e-cigarette vapors, such as propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, artificial dyes and flavoring, nicotine, and formaldehyde, to name several, irritate the gums and tissue linings of the mouth. This is dangerous on two levels: first, chronic irritation leads to inflammation which can lead to a variety of systemic health consequences. In the mouth, chronic inflammation causes periodontal disease. Second, irritation of the tissues in the mouth as a result of carcinogenic chemicals, such as formaldehyde and nicotine, can lead to the development of oral cancer over time.
Interestingly, the breakdown of chemicals found in vaping liquids and e-juices, such as propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, while not directly cariogenic, have been shown to encourage rampant bacterial overgrowth. Scientists speculate that the breakdown of these chemicals increases the ability for many destructive microbial species to attach themselves to human enamel thereby compounding their destructive power and potential.
"Vaping is no smoke, but for sure has fire."
--- DR. REZA KHAZAIE, DDS. PROSTHODONTIST
Exploding Vape Pens
A significant concern in regards to e-cigarette use and oral health is the potential for some e-cigarettes to explode resulting in severe damage to the oral cavity and even death.
While undoubtedly spontaneous detonation of e-cigarette and vaping devices are quite rare, this incident and many like it underscore the potential dangers of putting a lithium-ion battery and high degrees of heat in or near your face.
Debunking the Myth That Vaping Helps in Smoking Cessation
From my perspective as a prosthodontist and dental professional, the adverse effects of e-cigarette use far outweigh what some tout as a potential benefit. There are some who advocate for the use of e-cigarettes as a method for smoking cessation. They believe e-cigarettes may have a slight role to play in helping lifelong smokers quit smoking or taper down their nicotine use, or so the theory goes. Research debunks that theory, and e-cigarette use does nothing to aid in smoking cessation.
While vaping may help some quit smoking, the perception of e-cigarette use as essentially harmless may be far, far more dangerous in that it encourages nonsmokers, often young people, to try vaping.
Willow Pass Dental Care Recommendation
If you care about the health of your mouth, stay away from vaping. Don’t use e-cigarettes, JUUL, or other vaporizing devices. There are no benefits to your health. We recommend that our patients abstain from nicotine and tobacco use altogether. From an oral health perspective, nicotine use presents a clear and present danger to your mouth --- and your life.
DR. REZA KHAZAIE