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What should we tell our patients about the hazards of vaping and/or e-cigarettes? 

Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling a water vapor produced by a vaping device or e-cigarette.  The use of nicotine vaporizers (vaping) and e-cigarettes is one of the newest trends in the adult population although it appears to be increasing among the middle and high school populations.  They may not be considering the long-term risks on their oral and overall health. 

The first smokeless non-tobacco cigarette device was patented in 1967 by Herbert A. Gilbert.  In 2003, Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist, was credited with creating the first "modern" e-cigarette.  In 2007, e-cigarettes were introduced to the American market.

Although vapors from e-cigarettes can contain up to 450 times lower toxic substances in the body than smoke inhalation from a regular cigarette, many people believe that it is a healthier alternative.  However studies are now showing how damaging vaping can be to the oral tissue and to the body as a whole.

            "Canadian researchers did a lab study that looked at the effects of vaping for 15 minutes a day on the lining of the mouth.  The results showed that the cell lining of the mouth were dying at a much greater rate than normal. The typical rate that mouth cells die is about 2%.  But that number jumped to 53% after three consecutive days of exposure to vaping."­­­­­­­­­

            "Another study from the University of Rochester found that vaping damages the gum tissue just as much as tobacco cigarettes.  The vapors from an e-cigarette are heated and when inhaled come in contact with the oral cavity causing the cells in the mouth to release inflammatory proteins.  This aggravates stress within these cells and results in damage that could lead to various oral diseases."

The negative effects of vaping can be:

  • Xerostomia or dry mouth
  • Dry skin
  • Rash/burning sensation of the face, nasal and/or respiratory tract
  • Itchiness
  • Puffy dry eyes
  • Caffeine sensitivity
  • Stomatitis - an oral inflammation or ulcers located in the mouth, typically on the palate.  This condition looks like dark colored pin pricks and can be sensitive.
  • Minor bloody nose issues
  • Throat irritation/dry cough/hoarseness
  • Gingival inflammation
  • Hyperkeratosis or thickening of the tissue
  • Dizziness and headache
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation
  • Airway resistance
  • Swelling of bronchioles
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Loss of pulmonary function known as "popcorn lung"
  • Concern for children from second hand exposure

Of course the best advice we can give our patients is to quit vaping altogether but vaping  can be just as difficult to quit as traditional tobacco cigarettes.  The dentist will need to provide treatment options while the patient is trying to quit such as:  fluoride toothpaste and rinse, drinking more water, saliva substitutes, anesthetics, coatings, corticosteroids, etc.


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