Posted February 28, 2017
Since e-cigarettes were first introduced in 2006 in the United States, many people have wondered whether they are better for oral health than traditional cigarettes. New research shows that both choices are equally damaging to teeth and gums.
Often e-cigarettes are promoted as a healthier option to traditional cigarettes because they do not use tobacco. The e-cigarette device contains a battery that heats liquid in a cartridge containing nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals. When users inhale from the device, they breathe in the vapor.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the number of people using e-cigarettes has increased, especially among high school students. In 2011, just 1.5 percent of young people reported using e-cigarettes compared with 16 percent in 2015.
Years ago, scientists determined that the nicotine and chemicals in traditional cigarettes contributed to gum disease. With the introduction of e-cigarettes, the thought was that they wouldn’t be as damaging.
However, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s School of Medicine and Dentistry studying this question discovered that e-cigarettes could harm dental health. The vapors release inflammatory proteins that stress mouth cells, potentially causing dental health diseases. Menthol flavoring created the most damage, with or without nicotine. It is believed that people who frequently use e-cigarettes throughout the day may be at higher risk for developing oral problems, such as gum disease, loose teeth, even cancer.
A Canadian study discovered that e-cigarette vapor damage was cumulative. Researchers determined that over a three-day period mouth cells died at an increasing rate:
- 18 percent the first day
- 40 percent the second day
- 53 percent the third day
More research is necessary to investigate further the long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes.