E-Cigarettes: Are They Better For Your Oral Health Than Cigarettes?
E-Cigarettes: Are They Better For Your Oral Health Than Cigarettes?
E-cigarettes, also known as vapes, are devices that make liquid into vapour for inhaling, to simulating cigarette smoking. They’re battery-operated and generally look like a cigarette, a cigar, pipe, pen or memory stick; or just some weird, chambered gadget to suck on.
Regardless of design and aesthetics, e-cigarettes all operate in a similar manner, and have similar components. Currently there are almost 500 brands available.
It’s an industry that in 2021 is estimated to be worth $US18.47 billion – only $US2 billion less than Apple.
Originally marketed as a way to quit smoking, there’s never been enough scientific evidence that e-cigarettes do that – or that they’re actually safe. Vaping liquids – particularly the flavoured ones – contain a range of harmful chemicals no safer than tobacco. They sometimes contain nicotine even if they’re labelled ‘nicotine free’ – and as of 1 October 2021, Australians require a prescription to legally access vaping products containing nicotine; including anything sourced overseas.
Although researchers are still probing the industry and machinations of e-cigarettes, they are considered hazardous and without any advantage or benefit to health.
Does your dentist care if you vape instead of smoke? In a nutshell, no: studies show that vaping does have a direct effect on oral health. The aerosol from e-cigarettes provides more bacteria to the mouth, all of which are associated with enamel deterioration, cavities, and gum diseases.
It can also often cause dry mouth and inflammation.
Unsafe substances found in e-cigarette liquids and the vapour produced, include formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein.
Curiously, as the result of 2017 lawsuit filed in October 2017, the toxicity of formaldehyde is so recognised that since 1 June 2018, it has been illegal to manufacture or import composite wood products in the US if excessive amounts of formaldehyde are present.
Although acetaldehyde occurs naturally in coffee, bread, and ripe fruit, in intensities above any natural production it’s highly reactive and so toxic, it harms at the cellular and genomic levels: meaning that it damages DNA.
Acrolein is the simplest unsaturated aldehyde; a colourless liquid with the acrid smell of burnt fat – which is the glycerol breaking down into acrolein. It’s mainly used for killing and controlling bacteria and microorganisms in oil wells, liquid hydrocarbon fuels, water towers and treatment ponds. In a 2020 study it was reported that inhaled acrolein may be the main culprit for the acute adverse effects of e-cigarettes on vascular function, caused by the oxidative stress of blood vessels.
These three substances alone are known cancer-causing agents.
Despite e-cigarettes being devoid of tar – the principal cause of lung cancer – the concern of scientists is that vaping actually increases the risks of lung disease, heart disease and cancer.
Research has uncovered a strong association between e-cigarettes by non-smoking youth, and future smoking, as well as many vape users also continuing their conventional tobacco use. These dual users obviously expose themselves to even higher levels of toxicants than people who don’t make the switch, and smoke tailor mades or rollies.
E-cigarettes and their requisite liquids are challenging to assess from the most basic level because of the variety available in both cases, and labelling that is often incomplete or incorrect. Users can change the ‘juice’ recommended by the device manufacturer, and also how it operates.
The European Commission and its Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) published the Final Opinion on electronic cigarettes.
Following a request from the European Commission, the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) provided a Final Opinion on electronic cigarettes.
It reported moderate evidence for risk of irritative damage to the respiratory tract; and moderate, but expanding evidence that e-cigarettes have a harmful effect on the cardiovascular system.
More so, the SCHEER concluded weight of evidence for risks of carcinogenicity of the respiratory tract from long-term, cumulative exposure to acetaldehyde and formaldehyde.
There was strong evidence for risk of poisoning and injuries due to burns and explosion.
The SCHEER has also concluded that there is weak to reasonable weight of evidence of second-hand exposure risks, and that they are a gateway to smoking for young people. Flavours contribute to its attractiveness and there is little evidence that e-cigarettes support smokers in quitting tobacco.
Vaping is certainly no better for your oral health than smoking – and in fact, seems ostensibly worse overall.
A nicotine habit is the most challenging of all addictions, and has lead many to change from tailor made cigarettes to rollies in the belief that any health benefit is a good one; and vaping was marketed as the answer of all answers.
So ignore the hype, because it isn’t. As far as smoking is concerned, the only answer to better oral health is not doing it at all.
A very difficult challenge for many people. As difficult as living with diseased gums and extremely compromised teeth – an unfortunate outcome of dependence, whether the delivery is a packet, a pouch or a pod.
Note: All content and media on the Bacchus Marsh Dental House website and social media channels are created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.
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