Dental Research, Dental Trends

Are e-cigarettes harmful to oral health?

December 14, 2016

In the past few years, e-cigarettes have grown in popularity in large part thanks to the perception that they aren’t nearly as harmful to health as regular cigarettes. While conventional cigarettes deliver nicotine from burning tobacco, e-cigarettes heat and vaporize a liquid solution containing nicotine, which can be inhaled. E-cigarette manufacturers have marketed this vapor as less dangerous than tobacco smoke. But a recent study casts doubt on such claims, particularly as they pertain to oral health.

Medical News Today published an article explaining the results of a study showing that vaping with e-cigarettes may be just as harmful as tobacco to oral health. Dr. Irfan Rahman of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry led work on the study. Dr. Irfan and his colleagues noticed a gap in data on the effects of e-cigarette vapor. To help fill the gap, they systematically exposed the gum tissue of non-smokers to e-cigarette vapor and regular cigarette smoke, and compared the outcomes.

The study showed that the e-cigarette vapor caused damage to the tissue cells comparable to that caused by conventional tobacco smoke. Dr. Irfan explained that e-cigarette vapor “causes cells to release inflammatory proteins, which in turn aggravate stress within cells, resulting in damage that could lead to various oral diseases.”

E-cigarettes are relatively new, so their long-term effects are still unclear. But the widespread notion that they’re a good alternative to conventional cigarettes faces serious questions.

Something to consider discussing with dental patients who think they’re safe with e-cigarettes. Turns out they may be putting their oral health at risk.