For several years now, there has been an ongoing debate over the health risks associated with electronic cigarette use. And while there has been some research indicating that these products could be as much as 95% safer than combustible tobacco products like cigarettes, skeptics have continued to believe that they pose a serious threat to human health. Now, new research suggests that those skeptics may be at least partially correct – at least when it comes to dental health.

The Study’s Results

The new research involved a study that examined the types of chemicals found in the vapor produced by electronic cigarette devices. For those unfamiliar with the technology, e-cigs (as many users refer to them) are devices that heat a liquid solution – known in the industry as “e-juice” – to a temperature high enough to vaporize it. The user inhales the resulting vapor. That vapor is usually flavored and may or may not contain nicotine.

In studying that vapor, researchers found that many of the chemicals it contains are potentially as dangerous to the cells in the mouth as anything found in combustible tobacco smoke. In their study, these researchers exposed test subjects to the vapor by introducing it to the gum tissue of participants with no smoking habit. They used both tobacco-flavored and mentholated e-juice in their experiments.

The tests showed that the gum tissue responded in much the same way that it does when exposed to cigarette smoke. The cells that make up that gum tissue react by releasing proteins that cause inflammation. And where there is inflammation within the body, there is cellular stress and the potential for damage to tissue.

Are the Dangers Real?

Scientists say that this type of response can put vapers at risk for many of the same oral health complications that smokers experience. If so, the study would be confirmation of other research that exposed mouth cells to e-cig vapor – an experiment that resulted in a 53% mortality rate for those cells. Granted, that experiment involved cells that had been removed from participants’ mouths and exposed directly to the vapor over several days, but the results share some similarities.

The problem for vapers lies in the long-term impact that could be occurring. This type of damage to the cellular structure of gum tissue can weaken dental integrity and place the patient at higher risk for inflammation, infection, and various levels of periodontal diseases. Some of the researchers noted that it may even increase the risk of oral cancer.

Not Conclusive, but Cautionary

It is worth noting that nothing in these studies contradicts other research demonstrating that vaping is healthier than smoking. It does, however, sound an alarm about the risk to dental health – a risk that dental patients everywhere should take to heart. And while there are some in the medical and dental profession who have cheered patients’ use of electronic cigarettes to escape the tobacco habit, that response is not an endorsement of the vaping habit. If you’re a former smoker who’s turned to vaping to help you quit, the best way to preserve your teeth and gums is to continue that journey toward a nicotine-free lifestyle by setting aside the e-cig too.

At Ebenezer Dental, we recognize that the best decision is to not smoke at all. There are always risks associated with nicotine usage, since even smaller amounts of nicotine can pose a potential threat to the health of our patients’ teeth and gums. At the same time, the current research does seem to indicate that electronic cigarettes may offer a reduced health risk, which may make them valuable tools for those who are earnestly attempting to stop smoking. If you’d like to learn more about oral health from the best cosmetic dentist in New York City, give us a call today.

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  • That's really an informative article here. I totally agree with Tariq, E-cigarettes are as harmful as tobacco & cigarettes. I read a recent article published on medical news today & oral health group. According to them "the chemicals present in electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) vapor were equally as damaging - in some cases, more damaging - to mouth cells as tobacco smoke."

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