Vaping and Oral Health
Updated: Apr 25, 2020
In the last 3 months there is mounting evidence that many of the numerous products on the market are contributing to numerous cases of chronic lung damage. There are many cases emerging where the cause of young peoples death is primarily attributable to the irritation caused by vaping.
In the last 20 years the products available to help smokers to quit have been plentiful and varied with nicotine replacement therapy in the form of sprays, lozenges, gum, inhalers and patches. They have also had the option of looking at medication such as Champix (Varenceline HCL) or Zyban (Buproprion HCL SR). These medications whilst hugely successful and efficient, came with significant side effects. Analysis from reports to the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System shows that some people who used Champix and Zyban began experiencing changes in behaviour, depressed mood, and suicidal thoughts shortly after starting the medication. Okay, that doesn't sound like a great trade off for the individual considering the benefits versus the risk, but it is vital to appreciate that the vast majority of people took these drugs with no problem at all and 30% having stopped smoking after 6-12 months of treatment as opposed to 15% with nicotine replacement therapy.
The most common method today for people to try to get themselves off cigarettes that are horrible for the oral cavity and the body generally, is Vaping or the use of ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery System). We have to help people quit smoking due to the massive harm that can be caused to the mouth by smoking.
Smoking and the Oral Cavity
When you smoke, products like nicotine, tar and other harmful chemicals immediately affect your mouth, this is one part of your body that receives some of the worst side effects. The chemicals in smoke can lead to stubborn yellow stains on your teeth. They also weaken the protective enamel on your teeth, which can leave your teeth to more susceptible to bacteria that eat away at your teeth and cause tooth rot. Weakened enamel also leads to sensitive teeth. The Nicotine in smoke causes the blood flow to the gum to be reduced increasing the danger of developing serious gum disease. This can cause your gums to recede and compromises the stability of your teeth. Finally, perhaps the most major impact smoking has on your oral health is oral cancer. Smoke from cigarettes contain thousands of chemicals some of which are known to cause cancer.
What are e-cigs or ENDS?
Invented by a Chinese scientist in 2003 because his father had died from lung cancer caused by smoking, these are a relatively new phenomenon on the Irish market, but between 2011 and 2015, their use increased from 1.6% of American High school students to 16% - these are a massive $22.6 billion industry in the US and they are being extensively utilised in Irish schools and workplaces in Ireland too.
Vape pens and e-cigarettes are electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). They utilise a nicotine-containing liquid that also includes propylene glycol, glycerin, an array of flavouring choices, and other ingredients. In 2017 the Irish Government began to regulate the manufacture, distribution, labelling, and sales of ENDS to the public.
The electric component of e-cigarettes and vaping devices converts the liquid into an aerosol. All e-cigarettes contain three basic parts—a battery, a liquid-containing cartridge, and a heating element.
The e-liquid may come prepared in a pre-loaded cartridge for insertion into the device; it may also be mixed specifically at a store or using a DIY kit. The nicotine levels can range from 0–36 mg/ml, depending on the user’s choice, with the vape system allowing the individual to customise the level of inhalation.
Propylene Glycol - This is the Carrier for the nicotine, but it is broken down in the mouth to various erosive acids like Acetic acid, Lactic acid and propionaldehyde. The Glycol, erodes the enamel and also dries the mouth causing a condition called
resulting in tooth decay.
Glycerin and Flavour - This provides the sweetness and the flavouring to the vapour, but again the viscosity (thickness) of the liquid has been shown to help bacteria aggregate to the teeth increasing the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
Nicotine - This is what provides the desired dopamine rush. However it has been clinically shown to reduce gingival (gum) blood flow leading to more gum disease. It also has been shown to reduce the effectiveness of the white blood cells in your immune system.
Ireland is the third biggest consumer of Vaping products in the world per person, just behind Japan and the UK. Currently there are 40 million 'Vapers' in the world, 49% of whom took it up in order to curb their smoking habits, but a lot started because there are less restrictions on where you can smoke in public. 5% of Vapers started vaping having never smoked before, which is the reason people like the head of the Cancer Society in Ireland believes that they are a gateway for young people to cigarettes. This is now a $22.6 billion market, and in the year when actual smokers dropped from 1.16 billion to 1.1 billion people traditional tobacco companies are getting on this in a big way to protect their future profits.
- There is growing consensus that using an e-cigarette is substantially safer than smoking tobacco.
- Unlike smoking, e-cigarette use does not involve combustion.
- While the constituents of e-cigarette vapour can vary, and some of the toxins present in tobacco smoke have been detected in e-cigarette aerosol, they are typically present at levels which are much lower than in tobacco smoke.
- E-cigarettes currently available are consumer-regulated products which have to meet product safety standards, but the standards are not as rigorous as for licensed medicines.
- Given the limited time for which these products have been widely available, there is limited information about the long-term health impact of their use.
As if August 2019 it has now been reported that in the US there has now been an officially recorded lung disease death that is directly correlated to Vaping. This person was young. We now need to be very aware that vaping is indeed very dangerous to your health, and we may just be swapping one disease process for another equally risky.
Vaping should not be regarded as healthy. Your teeth can be at substantial risk, and we would advise regular dental check-ups. We would advise that you transition from vaping to non-smoking as quickly as possible to avoid extensive damage to the mouth. There have now been deaths attributable directly to vaping.