Electronic cigarettes (or e-cigs) have been available in the U.S. since 2008, but in recent years they’ve become all the rage. Vaping, as it’s called in the e-cig community, is a sleek, chic way to get your nicotine fix, by inhaling vapor instead of smoking. E-cigs are available in all kinds of flavors, and although they’re now regulated by the Food and Drug Administration like ordinary cigarettes, it has been shown that they are less dangerous than traditional cigarettes. However, recent research suggests that e-cigarettes might be harmful to your gums and teeth.
How do e-Cigarettes Work?
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that might look like an actual cigarette or possibly a pen. Some may look a bit different (for example, if they have refillable tanks), but they all work by heating up a liquid that’s typically composed of nicotine, other chemicals and flavorings. This liquid is turned into vapor which the user inhales.
Scientific Study on e-Cigarettes and Oral Health
A study by the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, published in the journal Oncotarget, examined the effect of e-cigarettes on oral health on both the cellular and molecular levels. In the study, two different types of e-cig vapor were tested to see how they affected cells in the gums. They compared these findings with cells that were only exposed to air. Those gum cells that were exposed to the e-cigarette vapor displayed greater harm and inflammation.
Vaping and Oral Health—The Findings
When e-cig vapors are burned, cells in the gums release inflammatory proteins. This aggravates cell stress, which results in cellular damage that can turn into different kinds of oral disease. The chief researcher, Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine, previously published a study outlining the damage done to lung cells by e-cig vapors and flavorings, and he also published a study showing how e-cigs could cause pollution. The danger to oral health escalates the more a person “vapes.” Even the chemicals used as e-cig flavorings can damage gum cells and the mouth in general.
Should You or Should You Not Vape?
E-cigarettes are probably less deadly than traditional cigarettes, though there are conflicting viewpoints. People who use e-cigarettes might not realize that they still contain nicotine, which is the substance that gets you addicted. It is also quite possible that since e-cigs are more convenient to use and are available in various flavors, people might be using them more often than they would smoke a regular cigarette. Although e-cigs don’t contain all the toxins of standard cigarettes, like toxic gases and tar, they do contain certain chemicals that are part of the added flavorings. For example, many contain diacetyl, a chemical compound, which is connected to a rare form of lung disease. Since vaping is a relatively new phenomenon, it is likely that future studies will examine its effects on health in greater depth.
From the perspective of your dental health, since this study has shown significant cellular damage to gums, it is certainly best to avoid vaping, if you want to enjoy optimal oral health. Your overall health will be better for it, too!