Vaping

Vaping isn’t the same as smoking, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe

Recently, a new vaping trend has morphed into a public health epidemic, impacting youth across the country. Though it was once touted as a safe alternative to traditional smoking, the North Carolina Dental Society warns families about the health risks, both known and unknown, associated with electronic cigarettes, pods and vaping.

The dangers of cigarette smoking to nearly every organ in your body are well known in today’s world. Unfortunately, traditional cigarettes are no longer the top health concern causing a stir among health officials today. Recently, a new vaping trend has morphed into a public health epidemic, impacting youth across the country. Though it was once touted as a safe alternative to traditional smoking, the North Carolina Dental Society warns families about the health risks, both known and unknown, associated with electronic cigarettes, pods and vaping.

“Although vaping is perceived to be a healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes, it is important for patients and families to understand the various health risks associated with e-cigarettes,” said Dr. Catie Cunningham, a dentist in Durham. “Vaping can have a large number of negative effects on your mouth, from dry mouth and bad breath to cavities and tooth decay. It’s critical that anyone who smokes or vapes visits their dentist for regular, bi-annual checkups to detect and treat any underlying oral health concerns.” 

While researchers are still studying the long-term effects of electronic cigarettes, pods and vaping, the North Carolina Dental Society sheds light on four immediate risks:

  • Harmful and Addictive Substances – Many electronic cigarettes contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance, particularly for teens and adolescents. Recent findings from the U.S. Surgeon General indicate that nicotine exposure in young people can affect brain development, and e-cigarette use among teens actually increases the risk of using conventional cigarettes. Additionally, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine explains that most electronic cigarettes on the market emit numerous potentially toxic substances. Speak with your dentist and healthcare provider about these studies and ask for resources and materials to help your family understand the health risks of vaping.
  • Cavities – Sweet flavors found in vaping products, including the JUUL, may pose a risk for cavities. According to the American Dental Association, researchers found that flavors in the e-cigarette aerosols interact with the oral cavity in a similar way to gelatinous candy and acidic drinks, adversely affecting teeth. If you vape, it is crucial to brush and floss consistently.
  • Gum Inflammation/Recession: Nicotine found in e-cigarettes can decrease blood flow to the gums by restricting the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the soft tissues of the mouth. Not only can this harm the gum tissue itself, but it also increases your risk of developing oral diseases, such as periodontitis. Remember, frequent oral exams can aid in early detection of oral diseases, easing any pain and discomfort you may experience.
  • Dry Mouth and Bad Breath: The nicotine in electronic cigarettes can reduce the production of saliva in the mouth. This makes your teeth susceptible to bacteria buildup, dry mouth and decay. Keep an eye on any changes you notice to your oral health and bring it up during your dental visits.

To learn more about how electronic cigarettes and teen vaping affect oral health, please visit mouthhealthy.org or consult a dentist in your area.

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About the North Carolina Dental Society

The North Carolina Dental Society was founded in 1856 and remains one of the oldest dental societies in the country. Representing 3,900 member dentists across the state, our mission is to help all members succeed. The NC Dental Society is a part of the American Dental Association, the nation's largest dental association, representing 163,000 member dentists, and the leading source of oral health information. For more information, visit ncdental.org.

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