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E-Cigarettes and Your Oral Health

Posted on February 18th, 2014

Are E-Cigarettes safer for your oral health than conventional tobacco cigarettes?


Since they arrived on the market in 2007, E-Cigarettes have risen in popularity. The dangers of e-cigarettes to your teeth and gums have only recently come to light. Many smokers, finding themselves ostracized by everyone except other smokers, consider this a viable option. E-cigarettes don’t produce noxious smoke, which risks the health of not only the smoker but anyone within breathing distance.  They don’t contain tobacco, and along with that, many of the chemicals associated with the growing and processing of tobacco.  So, if you are a smoker, are these a safer option?  How do they affect your oral health?

How do they work?

Smokeless, or E-Cigarettes, are battery powered.  They convert nicotine into vapor, which is The Dangers of E-Cigarettes to Your Teeth and Gumsdelivered into the mouth (and bloodstream, through the mucous membranes) of the user.  The reportedly odorless vapor exhaled by the ‘smoker’ quickly dissipates into the atmosphere.

It is well documented that smokers have a much greater risk of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss than non-smokers.  Here are a few of the facts:

  • Smokers lose their teeth at double the rate of non-smokers.  In fact, smokers lose an average of 6 more teeth during their lifetime than those who don’t smoke
  • Smokers are four times more likely to develop gum disease

But what about the nicotine?

Nicotine quickly affects the Central Nervous System.  In fact, it is considered an ‘anti-herbivore’ poison, and was widely used as an insecticide in the past.  Even now, compounds made from nicotine, such as Imidacloprid are currently widely used. This insecticide causes paralysis and death to insects.  It is implicated in honey bee colony collapse disorder.

Since the E-Cigarettes deliver nicotine directly into the mouth of the smoker, the concentration of this chemical is high. Here are some of the effects of nicotine, including those which affect your oral health:

  • Nicotine constricts arteries, making it more difficult for your heart to pump blood through your body.  Repeated nicotine exposure, whether through tobacco, ‘chew’ (or smokeless tobacco), or e-cigarettes, contributes to coronary artery disease, acute cardiac ischemic events (heart attacks), and hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Many studies have also linked nicotine to stroke, peptic ulcer disease , esophageal reflux, and slow wound healing.
  • Nicotine can also cause fat and cholesterol to be released into the bloodstream.
  • Since your gum health is related to the health of all body tissues, it is no surprise that your oral health is affected.
  • Nicotine has been shown to adversely affect gingival (gum) blood flow, immune cell function, and connective tissue remodeling, all of which are thought to be the mechanisms responsible for periodontal disease.
  • Several studies have also shown a link between nicotine use of any kind, and an increase in oral cancer.
  • When nicotine is inhaled, through tobacco or the vapor from e-cigarettes, it is quickly distributed through the blood stream and reaches your brain within about 7 seconds.

It is possible that due to the depth of inhalation possible with e-cigarettes, you may actually absorb higher concentrations of nicotine and other toxins, such as diethylene glycol, than conventional tobacco smokers.The Dangers of E-Cigarettes to Your Teeth and Gums

New York University is conducting a study to compare oral bacteria and DNA changes in patients who use e-cigarettes and those who smoke conventional cigarettes in order to effectively separate the risks of each.

While it’s clear that in some ways e-cigarettes are less harmful to your health than conventional cigarettes, experts agree that by no means should you consider them safe.  Serious risk to your oral health is clear.The danger of e-cigarettes to your teeth and gums is real.

If you have any questions about e-cigarettes and your teeth, gums and beautiful smile, ask your Dentist!  She’ll give you the most up-to-date information so you can make an informed decision.

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