News around the harmful effects of e-cigarettes and “vaping” is growing. In addition to damaging the lungs and heart, electronic cigarette smoking has also been found to increase the risk of dental cavities. The side effects of e-cigarette liquid now include damaging the teeth, much like sticky candies and sodas do.
Kids Are at Risk
If you’ve ever witnessed someone exhaling an e-cigarette puff, you’ve likely noticed how different it smells than a regular cigarette. When smoking e-cigarettes, the user can pick from over 10,000 flavors available on the market. These include gummy bear, cotton candy, and peach iced tea and are commonly known as “e-liquid,” which is vaporized and inhaled. When the ADA looked at more than 400 available e-liquid brands, they saw that “84 percent offered fruit flavors and 80 percent offered candy and dessert flavors.”
What was initially intended to assist older people in quitting smoking is now attracting a growing number of teens who were not smoking before. “More than 20 percent of high school students report using e-cigarettes on a regular basis.” This is almost twice what was reported in 2017. E-cigarettes are the most used tobacco product for middle school- and high-school kids in the US. Social media campaigns, product placement, and sweet candy flavors are a few of the ways kids are being introduced to e-cigarettes.
Children are already at a higher risk of developing cavities. The FDA Commissioner stated that “[youth e-cigarette prevention] may be the most important thing I can accomplish in my role as the agency’s Commissioner.” Discussing the risks of smoking and the harmful effects of e-cigarettes with your teen or young adult can make a difference. This pamphlet from the FDA will help you prepare before discussing e-cigarettes with your kid.
Side Effects of E-Cigarette Liquid
Researchers found 2 reasons for their cavity-causing nature. According to the lead on the study, Jeffrey Kim, D.D.S., Ph.D., the “viscosity,” or gumminess, of the e-liquid, and the chemicals that make up the flavor both can cause cavities. It seems only natural that inhaling flavors like cotton candy and gummy bear would impact your teeth just like eating them would. But, e-cigarettes come with a host of other problems that sweets don’t.
More Harmful Effects of E-Cigarettes
The ADA states that “e-cigarettes [impact] on human health goes beyond respiratory and cardiac systems and may have significant implications on oral health.” Researchers found that the aerosol in e-liquid increased bacteria on the enamel by 4 times!
There are negative repercussions that go beyond the teeth. Multiple reports have come out about the risk of e-cigarettes exploding. One 18-year-old male was using his e-cigarette before giving a presentation when it exploded. He was left with burns in the mouth and the stomach, and lacerations in the mouth from the device.
Another individual, a 23-year old male, experienced injuries and burns on his face, hand, and chest after his e-cigarette exploded. A scan of his oral cavity revealed “fractures of his hard palate and nasal septum, and dislocation of the adjacent teeth.” The soft palate and front teeth receive extensive damage when an explosion like this occurs. Due to their unregulated nature, researchers don’t consider them a safe alternative to cigarette smoking.
How to Quit
In 2016, the US Surgeon General “declared use of e-cigarettes by young people a ‘major public health concern.” With awareness around the harmful effects of e-cigarettes increasing, more resources are available to help those affected. If you’re a concerned adult looking to improve the health of your family, community, or self when it comes to e-cigarettes, review this free, easy-to-read, illustrated booklet from the Surgeon General’s office.
If you or someone you love needs more resources on how to quit smoking, check out Tips From Former Smokers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As their use becomes more widespread, stories multiply around how unsafe e-cigarettes are. Stop a bad habit in its tracks and spread your awareness about the harmful effects of e-cigarettes and the damaging side effects of e-cigarette liquid.