Electronic Cigarettes or Vaping- what you need to know.
Most people are aware that smoking is bad for their general health, potentially causing many medical problems and, in some cases lead to fatal diseases. However, many people do not seem to realise that smoking many also lead to dental disease including gum disease, dental decay and in more severe cases mouth and throat cancers.
Electronic cigarettes, although now illegal in Australia, are still available via the internet and are still popular amongst a certain percentage of the population.
Electronic cigarettes or Vaping devices are electronic battery powered smoking devices that have cartridges filled with a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavourings and chemicals. The liquid is heated into a vapour, which is then inhaled by the person using the device.
E-cigarettes are generally marketed as a less harmful alternative for tobacco smokers to consume nicotine. They have also been used as an aid to stop smoking tobacco related products, although evidence of their effectiveness in smoking cessation shows mixed results in the literature.
Vaping is a relatively new phenomenon, however health officials are already reporting serious lung damage in people who use vaping devices. Many of the liquids used in vaping devices chemicals that may be harmful.
Depending on the liquid used in vaping devices, the aerosol may produce nicotine, flavourings, metal particles such as tin and lead that can be deeply inhaled into the lungs. Some liquids have been shown to contain Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are the carcinogens found in cigarettes, Benzaldehyde which has been linked to lung irritation and other chemicals commonly used in disinfectants and pesticides.
It is believed that due to social media marketing and the names of some of the flavours such as; Berry Bash, Caramel Tobacco, Peach Green Tea, Gummi Bear, to name a few, vaping has become popular in some teen groups, with some estimations suggesting numbers as high as one in six teenagers have tried vaping. A study in the US showed that teenagers who tried vaping were almost twice as likely to take up cigarette smoking as those who did not try vaping. These figures are alarming as nicotine is highly addictive and has been shown to slow brain development in children and teenagers. Side effects of nicotine include memory loss, difficulty in concentrating, lack of self-control, lack of attention and mood swings.
Oral diseases including dental decay, periodontal disease and the increased risk or oral cancers have been associated with vaporised cigarette users. A recent study of over 4000 participants showed E-smokers were more likely to have untreated dental decay present. Taste loss, a phenomenon called “vape tongue” has been reported in a number of patients. Effects on the immunological system and delayed healing have also been reported patients using E- cigarettes.
In a policy statement on community oral health, The Australian Dental Association states that “E-cigarettes may cause serious harm or injury and should not be used.
B.D.S(Hons).(Syd). MDSc (Melb, Grad.Dip.Clin.Dent (Oral Implants), Grad.Dip.Clin.Dent (Conscious Sedation & Pain Control), FRACDS, FPFA, Senior Clinical Associate (Uni of Syd), Dental Surgeon.