E-Cigarettes and Oral Health

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Countless warnings on the health hazards of smoking tobacco are bombarding smokers every day. They are now turning in large numbers towards E-cigarettes as a safer and healthier alternative. These battery-powered devices that vaporize liquid nicotine have gained extreme popularity over the past few years. However, E-cigarettes may pose a significant threat to your oral and dental health.

Compared to smoking tobacco, E-cigarettes have several advantages. They are odorless. E-cigarettes do not contain tar that stains your teeth. They do not contain the huge majority of the toxins and chemicals found in tobacco cigarettes. However, some products do contain known toxins, such as propylene glycol or nitrosamines. Before you buy, you should check the ingredients found in the fluid and aerosol.

In addition, when operated at a very high voltage, E-cigarettes produce smoke with traces of oral cancer causing chemicals such as formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein. You should compare the voltage of various devices available on the market and choose the low or normal voltage models.

Nicotine as the main ingredient of E-cigarettes remains by far the biggest threat to your oral health. E-cigarettes convert liquid nicotine into vapor and deliver it straight into the lungs of the smoker. This can lead to high levels of nicotine intake, and nicotine may have adverse effects on your oral health. There is little debate as to the effect of nicotine in that respect. Here are just some of the usual symptoms of nicotine intake:

Bacterial Buildup

Nicotine prevents the body from producing sufficient saliva in the mouth and leaves the smoker with a dry mouth. Even if you drink enough water, nicotine still remains active while you sleep, giving you the sense of dry mouth in the morning.

Bad breath

Since nicotine constricts your veins, it also diminishes your body’s ability to produce saliva. Low levels of saliva lead to bacteria buildup, dry mouth, and tooth decay, all of which cause bad breath.

Gum disease

Nicotine constricts your veins and reduces the amount of blood that can flow through them. Without sufficient blood flow, gums do not get the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy. Nicotine chokes tissues in the mouth from the blood it needs to survive, causing death of the gum tissues.
Nicotine can hide the symptoms of gum disease from your dentist, making it harder to diagnose it. When you have gum disease, the warning sign is the increased blood flow to the gum. The gums are irritated and swollen and can even bleed when you floss or bush your teeth. However, nicotine constricts your veins and hides the swelling. You and your doctor could think that everything is fine. You will not observe the progression of gum disease and that could be the start of serious problems.

Even if your gums look fine, you should take pocket readings every three months. Your dentist will examine if your pockets are becoming deeper. This is a sign of weaker gums that can no longer grip your teeth firmly.

There are other effects of nicotine on your oral health, too. Nicotine stimulates the muscles. This could make you grind your teeth more firmly if you are already a grinder. If you are not a grinder, you are at risk of becoming one. When you grind your teeth, you wear them out, making them smaller and likelier to break.

One special concern is dental surgery. You should avoid vaping at least 72 hours after you have had your tooth extracted. Vaping requires sucking and getting a dry socket. Exposing your socket nerves to air is very painful and unpleasant. It also slows down healing.

Even if you think there are clear benefits of vaping in comparison to smoking tobacco, you should not consider E-cigarettes completely safe. Choose your vaporizer and nicotine cartridge wisely and always read the labels. Most importantly, visit your dentist regularly to catch the possible signs of gum disease as early as possible.

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