In an attempt to wean off of cigarettes, millions of Americans have transitioned over to smoking e-cigarettes. However, there is no long-term safety data regarding e-cigarettes, which means they’re still not considered a safe alternative for traditional cigarettes. Because e-cigarettes still contain nicotine, it’s important for adolescents and adults to understand the potential harms smoking e-cigarettes can have on oral health.
When users smoke e-cigarettes, they’re inhaling an aerosolized mixture of flavored liquids and nicotine that resemble traditional tobacco products. E-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals, such as antifreeze, which is made with either propylene glycol or ethylene glycol. Other chemicals include diethylene glycol and carcinogens, which are known to cause cancer.
E-cigarettes come in a variety of flavors to appeal to the younger demographic, which is why studies show that in 2018, at least 20% of high school students were reportedly smoking e-cigarettes within a 30-day timespan. Popular flavors include peach schnapps, java jolt, pina colada, peppermint, bubble gum, and chocolate.
Although e-cigarettes are considered to be a tobacco alternative, they still contain nicotine which is highly addictive. Nicotine is also considered to be a contributing factor to periodontal issues, including pocket depths, loss of periodontal attachment, alveolar bone and tooth loss. Studies also show that nicotine affects gingival blood flow, cytokine production, and connective tissues turnover.
Other oral health issues that can develop from nicotine include:
For those who use e-cigarettes and are concerned about developing oral issues, it’s important to check for early signs and seek treatment as soon as possible. An early sign of gum disease includes gingivitis, which causes the gums to become tender, swollen, and bleed easily. Early signs of leukoplakia include white, thick patches on the gums, tongue, or inside of the cheek.
At McBride Dental, we check for these symptoms by conducting a thorough inspection of the teeth, gums, tongue, and the roof of the mouth.
The best way to avoid developing these oral health issues is to refrain from smoking cigarettes and using cigarette alternatives altogether. Because they’re highly addicting, users should contact their dentists to discuss possible treatment options and receive educational resources to help them quit and improve their oral health.
At McBride Dental, we encourage our patients to visit with us at least twice a year so we can perform in-depth dental exams and cleanings. Our exams help our patients prevent oral issues, as well as monitor and treat current issues until they resolve. Our cleanings include removing calculus and polishing and flossing the teeth. We also use x-rays to further evaluate our patients’ smiles to check for any oral concerns.
As long as our patients remain consistent with their exams, we are able to help them prevent and treat cavities and gum diseases. If you’re in the San Diego area and are looking for a dental office to tailor to your oral needs, call 760-471-1003 to schedule an appointment with us today.