Iocca Dentistry Blog

Another way for Dr. Elizabeth Iocca Garcia to cater to all of your dental needs and desires.

Oral health and Vaping

E-cigarette usage is increasing dramatically, especially among adolescents. It is estimated that at this point one in five high school students may be using e-cigarettes in some capacity. This makes sense because so far, most of the information being presented is aimed at showing the advantages of e-cigarette usage over traditional cigarette smoking. Traditional smoking had been steadily decreasing among adolescents since 2014 mainly due to the obvious harmful side effects of smoking tobacco. The fun and “safe” e-cigarette marketing then brought “vaping” to the forefront of adolescents’ desire to be cool without harming their bodies. The advantages being advertised include the idea that using an e-cigarette can help people quit traditional smoking, being able to ‘smoke’ in smoke-free areas, and they are “healthier.” Vaping.org describes this by stating that regular cigarettes not only result in the inhalation of nicotine but also “4,000-plus chemicals, including the toxic amalgamation of chemicals known as tar and other chemicals and dangerous levels.” When discussing what is found in the liquid in e-cigarettes, they only mention that the chemicals in e-cigarettes can be found in everyday foods and medicines but forget to mention the potential harmful nature of the liquid components.

 

The good news is there is more research being published and there is more information being shared about the harmful side effects of e-cigarettes and its components. For example, when you Google “vaping,” three out of the top four results are articles on the dangers of e-cigarettes. It is becoming more widely known that vaping is still bad for your health, despite vaping being less harmful than traditional smoking and that e-cigarettes are just as addictive has traditional ones.

 

There is also more research showing the harmful side effects vaping has on an individual’s oral health. The liquid in e-cigarettes that is heated with the lithium battery in order to create the vapor consists of propylene glycol, glycerin, flavorings, water, and nicotine or THC. The defense of these products in e-cigarette liquid is that all of these components are included in everyday food and medicine products. While it is true that propylene glycol, glycerin and flavorings are used as solvents, preservatives or sweeteners in everyday products, this does not mean these products don’t have a harmful effect on the oral environment.

 

Propylene glycol: Propylene glycol is mostly used in food processing and found in things like sweeteners, ice cream and whipped dairy products. When inhaled through the mouth, the byproducts of propylene glycol include acetic acid, lactic acid and propionaldehyde, which are all proven to be toxic to enamel and gum tissue. Propylene glycol also binds to the water molecules in saliva and gum tissue causing extreme dryness. Dry mouth or xerostomia can be a side effect of medications as well as vaping and can lead to an increase in cavities and gum disease.  

 

Vegetable glycerin and flavorings: Just propylene glycol, glycerin and flavorings are found in the food and medical industry. Glycerin is a sugar but is NOT used for energy by the bacteria that causes cavities. When glycerin is mixed with flavorings, however, it drastically increases bacterial adhesion to teeth and plaque accumulation. What this means is that while glycerin and flavorings do not directly cause harm to the enamel or directly result in cavities or gum disease, it helps facilitate that cavity progression by helping the necessary bacteria.

 

As mentioned before a big draw towards e-cigarettes and away from traditional cigarettes is the fact that e-cigs do not burn and cannot cause fires if not extinguished properly. While e-cigs do not burn, they have been shown to explode. So far there have been 316 vape explosions reported in the media around the world.  There have been studies that this number is wildly underestimated. These explosions have occurred during charging, transport, storage and usage. The results of these explosions have ranged from property damage such as house fires to death. While death is a very small percentage of results, injury to the mouth and face are common. I myself treated someone in the emergency room after his e-cigarette exploded in his mouth. The patient lost three of his front teeth along with the surrounding bone. He also had multiple lacerations on his lips that needed to be sutured. These lacerations now have scars from the e-cigarette debris. The patient was looking at an extensive, expensive, and very long road of treatment to return to his previous chewing ability and desired esthetics.

 

Overall, when compared to traditional tobacco use, vaping with an e-cigarette can be just as dangerous, if  not more dangerous. It is not just the harmful effects of nicotine and THC that are a major concern but the harmful effects of the vapor as well as the e-cigarette itself are just as concerning. It is a good sign that the mainstream media is beginning to publish articles stating that vaping might be more harmful than originally thought or marketed. If you have any questions about vaping or Dr. Elizabeth’s experience with patients who vape and would like to schedule an appointment feel free to email us at info@ioccafamilydentistry.com or give us a call at 517-787-5210!

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517-787-5210 • info@ioccafamilydentistry.com

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