For decades, the United States has fought against the use of nicotine-related products with a variety of tactics.
For example, police officers and health professionals regularly teach children the dangers of tobacco at an early age. Despite these efforts, the introduction of electronic vape pens and e-cigarettes poses a new threat, along with a series of new health issues that must be addressed.
Since the popularity of Juul and other electronic cigarettes is relatively new, researchers are still learning about the damage these products cause to the human body.
While the primary focus is on the damage electronic cigarettes cause to a person’s lungs, just like paper cigarettes and chewing tobacco, vapes are destructive to oral health.
One of the biggest problems with vaping is the idea that it doesn’t harm the user. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
False Safety of Vaping
Originally designed to help tobacco smokers kick the habit and live a healthier life, these devices were advertised as a less harmful way to ingest nicotine.
At first glance, the product even looks less dangerous. E-cigarettes eliminated the image of glowing embers, dirty ashes, and lungs full of smoke. Instead, they use flavored liquids, commonly called “vape juice”, and turn it into aerosol vapor.
With this false safety, combined with a wide variety of exotic-sounding flavors, many people began trying vaping for themselves.
In reality though, vapes are anything but safe, and create a variety of problems with oral health.
How Vaping Affects Oral Health
The chemicals within vape pens, combined with nicotine, make for a toxic concoction that damages the gums and soft tissues within the mouth.
No matter how it enters the body, nicotine is proven to decrease blood flow to the gums. This restriction then leads to tooth loss and gum disease.
One of the most common chemicals found in vape juice is propylene glycol, which falls in the same chemical group as alcohol.
Propylene glycol can actually break down tooth enamel and soften tissues within the mouth. Additionally, it can also lead to dry mouth and reduce saliva production, which is essential for protecting teeth.
The combination of reduced saliva, softening tissues, and restricted blood flow to the gums makes serious illnesses and infections of the mouth far more likely.
While it may seem that nicotine is the biggest threat to your patients’ oral health, the flavoring chemicals in these vape pens can be just as destructive. Considering that the diversity of flavors is part of their appeal, it’s especially concerning.
Vegetable glycerin, an extremely sticky substance, acts as a sweetener in most of these vape liquids. When vaporized and inhaled, it adheres to teeth, especially the grooves on the biting surfaces.
Once this adhesive coats a user’s tooth, chemicals from the flavorings and microbes in the mouth start to stick as well. These begin to soften the teeth, often leading to tooth decay.
A final problem that comes exclusively from e-cigarettes is a bit extreme compared to tobacco, but dangerous nonetheless.
Certain vapes have resulted in trips to the hospital, after their lithium batteries exploded, leaving heavy damage to the mouth and face.
While it sounds like something far-fetched or over-the-top, it’s worth noting that between 2015 and 2017 there were 2,035 such incidents that resulted in the need for serious medical attention.
This is especially noteworthy when considering the high popularity of vapes among teenagers, who tend to be more reckless and less likely properly care for the device.
More than likely, your patients already understand the dangers of tobacco. And for those who don’t, you know to educate them.
However, vaping is still relatively new, and many patients remain unaware of the problems it creates. Even if they’re aware of possible lung damage, they still might not know about issues with their oral health.
Make sure your patients know that although vaping was introduced as a ‘safer’ alternative to smoking, it still has serious consequences on their mouths.
About First Choice Dental Lab
First Choice Dental Lab is a full-service dental lab with locations in Downers Grove, Il. & Wauwatosa, Wi.
We manufacture & customize quality dental restorations for general dentists. We create smiles based on your needs and budget.
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