Vaping can affect oral health negatively, despite electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) being touted as a “healthy” alternative to traditional smoking. While conventional cigarettes do contain considerably more toxins, e-cigarettes still contain harmful substances that can be detrimental to oral health. Unfortunately, due mainly to the appealing flavors offered in vape pens and e-cigarettes, vaping is more often used by adolescents and teens recreationally rather than a nicotine replacement for smokers trying to quit.
The Growing Trend of Vaping Among Young People
Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) were introduced to American society in 2006 and began to be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2016. FDA statistics show an increase in high schoolers vaping from 1.5% in 2011 to 16% in 2015. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) research shows:
- Twice as many boys use e-cigarettes than girls
- 30% of teen e-cigarette users begin smoking tobacco products within 6 months
- Vaping among high school seniors jumped from 27.8% in 2017 to 37.3% in 2018 (20.9% stated they vaped nicotine products and 13.1% vaped marijuana)
- 10.9% of eighth grade students reported vaping nicotine between 2017 and 2018
These numbers represent an additional 1.3 million adolescents who vaped in 2018 versus 2017. Many teens taking these surveys did not know what the exact ingredients were in their vaping devices, and many of the most popular e-cigarettes brands do not offer nicotine-free products.
Other Vaping Concerns
Nicotine is an addictive substance, so vaping liquids containing nicotine can be habit-forming. In addition, e-liquids can contain other chemicals such as diethylene glycol, a substance found in antifreeze.
The results of a recent Canadian study show that mouth cells, which typically die at a rate of 2%, escalated to a 53% rate after just 3 consecutive days of vaping. These cells are necessary to protect the mouth from gum disease and other infections. Studies also showed that the heated vapors that come in contact with the oral tissues can cause the remaining cells to release inflammatory proteins that can damage the mouth.
If your child is vaping, talk to him/her about the consequences of using e-cigarettes, and be sure to keep regular appointments with your pediatric dentistfor oral screenings. For a consultation about vaping and oral health, please contact our kid-friendly office for an appointment.