There is a common belief that e-cigarettes and vaping are less harmful and have less health risks than standard cigarettes and other tobacco use.
E-cigarettes use a cartridge to deliver nicotine. The cartridge contains dilutants, flavorings, and nicotine. A device heats the cartridge to produce an aerosol. The aerosol looks like a vapor or mist—hence the term vaping. The aerosol contains fine particles of toxic chemicals.
Various levels of nicotine are available. Some e-cigarette devices can have the nicotine equivalent of 1 pack of 20 cigarettes in one device. Why is nicotine such a concern?
- Nicotine is addictive
- Nicotine is known to cause cancer
- Nicotine reduces blood flow—if this happens in your gums, it will contribute to gum disease and recession of your gums. Because of the reduced blood flow it may seem that your gum disease has gotten better—but in reality, the reduced blood flow is also reducing the ability of your gums to heal and repair the damage that’s been caused
- Nicotine reduces saliva production. Without saliva to rinse away food particles and bacteria, you are more likely to develop dental cavities
- Nicotine fires up muscles, including those that contribute to bruxism (teeth clenching and grinding)
As far as dental cavities, the sweeter flavors of e-cigarette liquids (such as cotton candy or bubblegum) appear to contribute to dental cavity development and, as already mentioned above, reduced saliva flow also can cause dental cavities.
Early studies on the effects of vaping show:
- Changes to lungs
- Changes in DNA
- Damage to blood cells
- Increased risk of heart disease,
- Negative impact on immune system
Teens may begin using e-cigarettes because they think they are less harmful than conventional tobacco products or because they “look cool” but instead they may be getting addicted to the nicotine in addition to having many of the negative effects begin at a young age.
If you are already a smoker and are trying to quit, the e-cigarettes may have a temporary place in the quitting process by allowing you to slowly reduce the levels of nicotine, but you should ask your doctor about the quitting regimen before switching to e-cigarettes and try to adhere to the regimen you’re given.
*Note: Information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare providers.