E Cigarettes: a Dental Mystery Best Avoided

E Cigarettes: a Dental Mystery Best Avoided

While Don Draper may bring back that old-world 60s charm when he lights a cigarette in his corner office on Mad Men, the days of thoughtless tobacco-product consumption are long gone. By now, we’re all well informed of the risks of smoking cigarettes.

Cancer, cardiovascular disease, stained teeth and halitosis are just a few of the health hazards that smoking brings, and dental health professionals, like your Eugene dentist are among the loudest voices speaking up against cigarette use.

Less is known about the health effects of “e cigarettes,” or electronic cigarettes– in fact, there is almost no evidence out yet because the product is so new. Nonetheless, these smoking alternatives have health professionals worried.

What are e cigarettes?

In case you haven’t seen them (and they can be subtle!) e cigarettes are electronic devices that look like conventional cigarettes but give the user the desired nicotine high without combustion. Instead of burning, e cigarettes vaporize a lot of chemicals– nicotine among them– which are then inhaled.

The goal (or one of them) of e cigarette producers is to provide a product that supplies the same nicotine “high” found in conventional cigarettes without its dangerous, smokey, side-effects. The dry smoke from conventional cigarettes, thick with combusted chemical ingredients, is responsible for lung, throat, and oral cancers as well as damage to the soft tissues of the mouth and respiratory tract.

But we all know what they say about good intentions…

Despite these presumed good intentions, health professionals see a lot of problems with the “healthy” alternative offered by e cigarette producers. Besides the fact that there is no body of evidence to prove that they are safe, there are a variety of factors that suggest that they are not:

  1. E cigarettes contain a host of chemical ingredients which are largely unregulated and may vary wildly from producer to producer. While there is no damaging combustion involved in the intake of these chemicals, they are still entering the blood stream through vapor.
  2. And speaking of regulation, at the moment there is virtually none. Researchers examining different brands of e cigarettes have found widely varying amounts of nicotine– the main chemical desired– in each brand. Currently, users of e cigarettes don’t have a way of knowing how much nicotine they’re putting in their bodies.
  3. Nicotine is still a dangerous chemical. It is highly addictive, and on its own it promotes tumor growth and angiosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

The dental effects are unknown… and that’s not a good thing

E cigarettes are commonly marketed as a product that can preserve smokers’ smiles. Oral health professionals, like your Eugene dentist Dr. Rita Feldmanis, feel extremely skeptical about this claim. The fact is, we don’t know what the dental health effects are of using e cigarettes– which doesn’t ensure their safety!

Even with the small amount of research done, the evidence is already there that e cigarettes do not, as producers tout, release “harmless water vapor.” There is a cornucopia of chemicals in that vapor, and it goes directly into the oral tissues.

Looking to quit?

Many patients believe e cigarettes will help them quit conventional cigarettes. Nicotine is extremely addictive and quitting is certainly hard to do– if you want to stop using tobacco, talk to us. While quitting is challenging, there are ways to do it that don’t put your health in jeapardy.

At Feldmanis Family Dentistry, your Eugene oregon dentist, we here to support your best health. Talk to us about quitting tobacco at your next appointment.

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