The prevalence of cigarette and tobacco use among American adults has been sharply declining for the last several decades, according to the Center for Disease Control. In 1965, over 40% of adults regularly smoked cigarettes, and that number had dropped to 16.8% by 2014.
This massive drop can be largely attributed to the growing body of research about the cancer-causing effects of cigarettes. With new studies citing more and more negative health effects of cigarettes emerging each day, it’s no wonder why so many people have stopped smoking or avoided starting altogether.
In recent years, however, cigarette alternatives have begun to grow in popularity. E-cigarettes, hookah, and vape pens have largely begun to replace cigarette smoking in America.
Many patients who have switched from smoking to vaping believe that vaping causes no harm to their bodies, but is that really true? Today, the Tharp & Klaus team tackles this question, and the answer may have you thinking twice next time before you pick up your vape pen.
What is Vaping?
Vape pens are small, portable devices that vaporize flavored liquid for inhalation. The liquid can contain nicotine or be completely nicotine-free, depending on the preference of the user.
Many of our Jackson patients vape as an alternative to cigarettes while others vape for recreational purposes. From 2011 to 2015, the FDA tracked an increase from 1.5% to 16% of high school students using vape pens or other electronic cigarette products. They are much more accessible to the student-aged population, and many of these young users believe vaping to be completely harmless.
It’s important to remember that these liquids can still contain nicotine, which is harmful to young people. FDA mandates require manufacturers to supply the liquid containers with warning labels, but there are fewer regulations about vaping in public.
How Vaping Affects Your Teeth
When users inhale, the vapor comes in contact with the teeth when it’s very hot. Studies have shown that this e-liquid can contain toxins like diethylene glycol, which is found in antifreeze, lead, and chromium. Additionally, the menthol additive used in the e-liquid has a negative effect on the ligaments and cells in your gums much like traditional cigarettes.
One of the most common negative side effects of vaping is xerostomia, which is the clinical term for dry mouth. Dry mouth may not seem like a big deal, but it can actually pose a major threat to the health of your smile.
Saliva plays a major role in keeping your mouth healthy. After you eat or drink, leftover particles provide a huge feast for the bacteria that lives in your mouth. When bacteria digests the particles, it produces an acid waste that forms plaque, the sticky, white substance that rests on your teeth. Plaque attacks your enamel, and over time, causes cavities, gum disease, and more oral health maladies.
You need saliva, therefore, to wash away those leftover particles before they wreak havoc on your teeth. If you use a vape pen regularly and find that you have a chronic case of dry mouth, consider kicking the habit. Your teeth will thank you.
Other negative effects of vaping include:
- Small burns on the roof of your mouth and cheeks
- Stomatitis or sores in your mouth
- A dry cough caused by the vapor in your lungs
So, What Now?
We encourage all of our Jackson, MS patients to refrain from using cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and other similar devices. If you are someone who vapes, make sure you’re being extra diligent with your oral health routine to mitigate some of the damage. Brush your teeth very thoroughly with fluoridated toothpaste. Patients with dry mouth should use mouthwash and drink water regularly to keep the mouth free of cavity-causing bacteria.
You should especially be visiting your dentist regularly if you vape, because you’re at a higher risk of developing gum disease and oral cancers. Make an appointment with Drs. Tharp & Klaus today to ensure that your teeth are healthy and free of disease and decay!