Over the years there have been an increase in use of e-cigarettes, for both recreational use and to replace traditional cigarettes. Users might view e-cigarettes as a healthier choice as they are promoted as being able to satisfy the users nicotine cravings without the use of tobacco or smoke. Although this may sound convenient and safer than traditional cigarette smoking, have you wondered if there are any negative implications on your oral health?
What Are E-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that often mimic cigarettes and can also come in a variety of different looks, shapes and sizes. E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, instead a liquid is used to produce vapour which is inhaled to mimic the sensation of smoking. Using an e-cigarette is usually referred to as “vaping.” The vapour produced looks very similar to smoke and the tip of the e-cigarette might glow the same way a cigarette does. The vapor inhaled is a mixture of water, flavouring and chemicals that may contain nicotine, propylene glycol and other ingredients.
In Canada, e-cigarettes with nicotine have not been legally approved for sale by Health Canada. This has not however, discouraged users from being able to purchase these products. E-cigarettes that do not contain nicotine are readily available for purchase over the counter.
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Are E-Cigarettes Ok For Our Oral Health?
There has been much ongoing debate as to what impact e-cigarettes have on our health. The long-term effects on our health and oral health are not yet known, and the effects may vary depending on the ingredients of the particular e-cigarette being used. “Currently, the effects of long term exposure to e-cigarettes are completely unknown and present a potential oral cancer and periodontal disease risk for users, due to their higher exposure to these chemical mixtures,” states the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
A harmful effect that may result from vaping are the effects of using nicotine which reduces the ability to produce saliva, causing a dry mouth. A dry mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria to grow. Saliva is a cleansing agent and one of the effects of having a dry mouth is that it can make tooth enamel erosion worse which not only contributes to bad breath but also tooth decay, gingivitis, loss of teeth and periodontal disease. Nicotine can also cause damage to the mouth, gums, and the tongue.
Since there is no regulation in Canada for nicotine e-cigarettes as it is illegal to sell the product, labelling of ingredients might not be accurate or might not be listed at all which poses serious concerns. Even if ingredients are listed, this doesn’t make them safe and without potential harmful effects as some of the ingredients known to be widely used may be carcinogenic chemicals that can lead to oral cancer. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spoke out on e-cigarettes stating they contain a toxic found in antifreeze which can lead to cancer.
With little knowledge about the long term effects of using e-cigarettes, it is a good idea to question and learn about the possible effects on your oral health both presently and down the road. The best option to maintaining good oral health is to avoid all tobacco, e-cigarettes or smokeless products. If you have questions or concerns about e-cigarettes and your oral health ask your dentist at North Burnaby Dental Group as they will be happy to answer them.