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E-Cigarettes & Oral Health – What You Need to Know

E-Cigarettes & Oral Health – What You Need to Know

As your family dentist in Hillsdale, OR, our team at Beadnell Family Dentistry wants all of our patients to better understand potential threats to both their oral and overall health. While smoking has long been understood to have dangerous and life threatening consequences, the rise of a recent fad has left many patients confused.

The Rise of E-Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes are a battery-operated device designed to deliver nicotine with flavorings to users in vapor form instead of smoke. They can be manufactured to resemble traditional cigarettes, cigars or pipes, or even everyday items like pens and USB memory sticks.

When e-cigarettes were first introduced they were promoted as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes but little is actually known yet about the health risks of using these devices.  E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular among adolescents. There are only a limited number of states that have regulated the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, but they can be easily ordered online.

Kids at Risk

In addition to the unknown health effects, early evidence suggests that e-cigarette use may serve as an introductory product for youth who then go on to use other tobacco products, including conventional cigarettes. A recent study showed that students who have used e-cigarettes by the time they start 9th grade are more likely than others to start smoking traditional cigarettes and other smokeable tobacco products within the next year (Rigotti, 2015).

There is little documented evidence regarding the oral effects of e-cigarette use.  Among the few studies that have been done the most common oral symptoms reported are gingival irritation, dry mouth, and mouth ulcerations. Researchers have found excessive levels of formaldehyde, an established carcinogen, in the vapor produced by e-cigarettes when the devices are used at high voltage. The cancer risk from this is much greater than from conventional cigarettes. However, at this time, overall research demonstrates a relatively low incidence of adverse oral effects. More long-term studies are needed to fully assess these devices.

We are all aware that traditional cigarettes have many health risks associated with their use. If e-cigarettes truly have no or lower toxic chemical substances are they a better alternative than traditional cigarettes? Or could they be used with smoking cessation? Time and more research will tell. Make sure to continue checking out our blog to hear more from your family dentist in Hillsdale, OR about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

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