E-Cigarettes Found to be Just as Harmful As Tobacco for Oral Health
It’s common knowledge that cigarette smoking is bad for your overall health in myriad ways. Of concern to the team at Kalil & Kress, smoking also damages the health of the cells in your mouth and can lead to gum disease and mouth cancer.
But when electronic cigarettes came out a few years ago, the thinking was that they wouldn’t be as harmful. New research, however, suggests vaping may be just as harmful as smoking to your oral health.
In a new study published in the journal Oncotarget, researchers found that the chemicals present in electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) vapor were equally as damaging, and in some cases, more damaging, to cells in the mouth as tobacco smoke.
Background on e-cigarettes
When e-cigarettes first started showing up in stores around 2010 most people assumed they would be far less harmful than traditional cigarettes. After all, they don’t contain tobacco. It was assumed e-cigarettes would be a viable way for smokers to actually quit tobacco.
E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices about the size of a cigar or large pen. They contain a heating device and a cartridge that holds a liquid solution. When used, the heating device vaporizes the liquid and the user inhales the vapor.
E-cigarettes aren’t made of tobacco, but they still pack a punch of nicotine and other chemicals and flavoring agents. While assumed to be safer than inhaling actual tobacco, e-cigarettes have been on the market for such a short period of time that there isn’t any long-term research on the effects of “vaping” on human health.
New study shows damage
In an attempt to gain some research knowledge, this study was conducted at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York. The goal was to gauge the effect of e-cigarette vapor on oral health.
For the study, the research team exposed the gum tissue of nonsmokers to either tobacco- or menthol-flavored e-cigarette vapor. The tobacco-flavored vapor contained 16 milligrams of nicotine, while the menthol flavor contained 13-16 milligrams of nicotine or no nicotine.
The researchers found that all e-cigarette vapor damaged gum tissue cells in levels comparable or even above the damage caused by actual tobacco smoke.
This is how the study’s lead researcher, Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., described the findings, “We showed that when the vapors from an e-cigarette are burned, it causes cells to release inflammatory proteins, which in turn aggravate stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to various oral diseases.”
Nicotine is a known contributor to gum disease, but it appears e-cigarette flavoring actual exacerbates the cell damage, particularly with the menthol-flavored vapor.
These oral health findings are particularly relevant to young people, as their use of e-cigarettes has increased in recent years. In 2011, just 1.5 percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes, but that number climbed to 16 percent in 2015.
So, while not inhaling the tobacco smoke from cigarettes may preclude some lung damage, e-cigarette vaping appears to be bad or even worse for the area of concern to the team at Kalil & Kress, your oral health. Looks like this newest fad should be one to be avoided for good oral health.
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