Rising Smoke of E-cigarettes: More Users and Oral Health Problems

808629_24052868Electronic cigarettes have been hitting the market hard. The battery powered-devices that deliver nicotine vapors are gaining ground among every age group, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The most stirring result, however, are their increasing popularity in young teens. According to a CDC national survey, the number of students in middle and high school who tried e-cigarettes doubled in 2012 from the previous year, totaling 1.8 million teenagers.

What are e-cigs, and how do they impact oral health?
Electronic cigarettes are inhalers that use refillable cartridges to provide doses of nicotine and other additives. Users change out the cartridges after 110 to 180 puffs, as they are not gauged in time duration. They contain irritants, animal carcinogens and genotoxins. Frequently, they have been considered a substitute for traditional cigarettes and a method for quitting smoking. The U.S. Food and Drug Association does not regulate these devices.

Although the vapor-emitting product has not been around long enough to be tested for any possible health risks, experts say that they are likely better for you than traditional cigarettes.

This is perhaps why many kids have turned toward them as a tobacco substitute. In 2012, approximately 160,000 students in middle and high school who reported using e-cigs had never tried conventional cigarettes. Many worry that the nicotine vaporizers might be a gateway, and could be reverting the act of smoking back to being cool.

However, nicotine is still responsible for a number of oral health issues, including bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. In a report conducted by the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, nicotine significantly heightens the risk of periodontal disease by increasing the pocket depth of the gums, wearing away on the alveolar bone. This risk may lead to tooth loss.

Everyone knows the feeling when your friend or relative comes inside from smoking a cigarette. While the horrible aroma of their clothes might not walk in with them after using an e-cig, their mouth could still stink.

How are e-cigs linked to canker sores?
One of the immediate effects that often pops up for current or former smokers who switch to electronic cigarettes is canker sores. The little round ulcers in the lining of your mouth can be more pestering than your kid brother on a sugar high and often hurt when you talk or eat. Normally, they last from a few days to a week and can be a side effect of quitting smoking.

Smokers may experience canker sores in the beginning of their transition to vaping. Users find it is related to nicotine content and frequently occurs when the vaping liquid touches the lips and mouth.

Smoking tobacco raises alkalinity, which means your mouth becomes less acidic. When you stop smoking or trade for e-cigs, your mouth has to re-calibrate – essentially, it is too acidic. Therefore, it is not necessarily the e-cigs that cause canker sores, but the lack of smoking.

Combating oral health problems caused by smoking
• The golden-gun trick for a fighting a dirty mouth: Brush your teeth before breakfast and prior to going to sleep at night. This will help clean out dental plaque and bacteria, and reduce bad breath.

• Floss daily to pick out the food particles stuck between your teeth.

• Use an alcohol-free mouthwash regularly.

• If you’re looking for canker sore remedies, take B6 and B12 vitamin supplements – being vitamin deficient can lead to the bacteria responsible for the sores. Avoid spicy foods, and also try a specialty breath freshening rinse to ward off the troublesome ulcers.

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