How do e-cigarettes affect oral health?


vaping and gum disease


e-Cigarettes and Gum Health


There’s been a lot of speculation around the healthiness of e-cigarettes, as these devices continue to increase in popularity. The full range of side effects is not yet documented, however new e-cigarette regulations came into effect on May 20, 2017, with the purpose of restricting tank size and strength as well as the ingredients used. Many oral health experts are championing these regulations, specifically those who remain skeptical of the long-term effects on our overall health.  If you think you might have gum disease then follow the link to our main page where you’ll be able to get advice on treatment options: Gum disease Treatment Liverpool.

For a scale and polish appointment visit our dental hygiene page.

Despite what you may have heard, e-cigarettes are not a new invention. According to a paper written by Richard Holliday and Claire Stubbs, a patent for an electronic cigarette device was recorded in the USA in 1965. In recent years, these devices have experienced a spike in popularity due to a Chinese inventor named Hon Like, who filed a new US patent after his father died of lung cancer.


What’s in an e-cigarette?


So what are in e-cigarettes? Electronic cigarettes use liquid to operate, and this liquid can come in a variety of forms. The majority of the solution is composed of diluent—typically propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine, and nicotine is available in a variety of doses. A recent study calculated over 466 different brands of e-cigarettes with 7,764 original flavours.


Now for the important question: what are the potential side effects? Holliday and Stubbs conducted a systematic review of e-cigarette literature in 2014, in an attempts to uncover any evidence for oral health effects from these devices. Many surveys wielded “mouth and throat dryness and irritation” as a common reaction. Toxins have been found in e-cigarettes in several studies, including diethylene glycol (used in anti-freeze), lead, nickel and chromium. These are found in much lower levels than in burnt tobacco smoke; one study by Goniewicz et al investigated 12 brands of e-cigarettes and found toxins to be 9 to 450 times lower than in burnt tobacco.


Research into vaping and gum health


However, a report on the Totally Wicked website called “Why do my gums bleed now I’ve switched to Vaping” claims that e-cigarettes are vaso-constrictive; in other words, the blood vessels in the gums tighten every time the user has a cigarette. Any present gum disease will be masked by this vaso-constrictive effect.  Dr. Rahman of the University of Rochester has published research on the damaging effects of e-cigarette vapours, as well as the flavourings on lung cells and pollution effects. In this study, non-smoking human gum tissue was exposed to either tobacco or menthol-flavoured e-cigarette vapour; evidence was found that the flavouring chemicals also had a damaging effect on the cells in the mouth. The flavourings made the damage to the cells even worse.


These researchers found that all e-cigarette vapour caused damage to the gum tissue cells, comparable to the damage caused by exposure to tobacco smoke. Dr. Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, states, “E-cigarettes may well be a healthier way to access nicotine but it’s not completely problem-free. Nicotine itself limits the blood flow in our mouth’s tissues. Because of this, it seems likely that vapers may be more prone to gum disease. If you are thinking about switching to e-cigarettes or already use them, it is important to be extra attentive to prevention of gum disease.


For more information about gum disease prevention at Smileworks take a look at our gum disease page here: Gums and dental hygiene.


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