Are you thinking of switching over to e-cigarettes instead of traditional cigarettes? Plenty of people have made the leap to e-cigarettes in hopes of eventually quitting and minimizing the harmful effects of smoking. In fact, a recent study from the CDC found that nearly one in four individuals that recently tried quit smoking within the past year use e-cigarettes. Now, we’ve covered just how dangerous smoking is for the health of our teeth and gums in a previous post. In many cases, smoking cigarettes can damage oral health to the point of tooth loss. What’s worse is the fact that smoking can also increase the likelihood of dental implant failure if you’re trying to restore your missing teeth. While there are plenty of differences between cigarettes and e-cigarettes, is oral health affected in the same way? Dental implant provider Dr. Andrew Mortensen explains the effects e-cigarettes can have on the oral health of patients here in Fountain Valley, CA.
What’s an E-Cigarette?
E-cigarettes or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) have steadily risen in popularity within the past decade. Use of e-cigarettes has doubled among adults in the United States from 2010 to 2013. These bacteria-operated devices deliver nicotine along with other chemicals with vapor instead of smoke. They are comprised of three different pieces including a cartridge that holds the nicotine and chemicals, a heating device, and a power source. Instead of burning tobacco like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes vaporize the liquid solution in the cartridge to create an aerosol or vapor that is inhaled. The look of e-cigarettes can vary quite a bit. Early models of e-cigarettes closely resemble the look of a traditional cigarette. Most e-cigarettes released today will look like pipes or pens.
Although most people believe using e-cigarettes is less harmful than regular cigarettes, studies have found varied results. The biggest problem with e-cigarettes is the lack of knowledge on the long-term effects of usage. The emission of vapor instead of smoke is a huge selling point for most e-cigarette companies. However, the American Lung association states that studies have found “formaldehyde, benzene and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (a carcinogen) coming from those secondhand emissions.” Despite these findings, users say they prefer e-cigarettes over tobacco cigarettes because they don’t reek of smoke, don’t have bad breath, and can taste food better.
E-Cigarettes and Your Oral Health
E-cigarettes are definitely not safe, but many researchers believe that they are still safer than traditional cigarettes. Although this may be true, many of the harmful oral health effects of cigarettes still ring true for e-cigarettes too. E-cigarettes affect oral health because they still contain nicotine, which can cause serious problems for the health of your teeth and gums. Here are some of the two main ways e-cigarettes will affect your oral health.
Gum Recession and Hiding Signs of Gum Recession
Nicotine is harmful to your gums because it restricts the amount of blood flowing to the gums. This is because nicotine is a vascular constrictor, which will cause the contraction of the muscular wall of blood vessels. Constricting the blood vessels will then increase blood pressure and decrease the amount of blood that can flow through vessels. The effects of this diminished circulation will make you more susceptible to several overall health risks like stroke, cardiac arrest, and aneurysms. Your periodontal health will be affected because gum tissue will suffer from the restricted blood flow that contains the necessary nutrients and oxygen for healthy gums. Signs of unhealthy gums include:
- Red, swollen gums
- Bleeding gums while brushing and flossing
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
Many times, individuals with unhealthy gums due to nicotine won’t notice the symptoms. That’s because gums won’t bleed or appear swollen with the restricted blood flow. Without seeing these signs of gum disease, you can allow the disease to further until the point of tooth loss.
Bad Breath and Dry Mouth
The restriction of blood flow to the mouth will also affect your ability to produce saliva. Although a decrease in saliva production may not sound like a harmful effect, saliva actually plays an extremely important role in your oral health. Saliva contains proteins and minerals that help remineralize tooth enamel, creating a strong defense against tooth decay and acid attacks on your teeth. It is also important because it will wash away excess bacteria and plaque in your mouth. In the same respect, it will also help wash away food debris that can cause bad breath.
What Should You do?
Like we mentioned in our post about traditional cigarettes, we believe the best thing you can do is quit smoking altogether. E-cigarettes do deliver a smaller amount of nicotine, but it is still damaging. Whether you’re using cigarettes or e-cigarettes, your health is taking a serious hit in many different ways. You can avoid the health consequences for your overall and oral health by using some of the following tips to quit:
- Don’t carry or buy any cigarettes
- Think of each day individually
- Reward yourself for reaching milestones without smoking
- Talk to friends and family about your commitment
- Keep a list of reasons you want to quit smoking
Contact our Office
If you’re currently dealing with the health consequences of smoking such as tooth decay and tooth loss, contact our office. Dental implants can restore your missing teeth to give you a natural-looking, complete smile. To begin your dental implant journey, contact our office to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today.