People often think vaping and e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco, but recent studies prove otherwise.
Decades of research has shown how addictive and dangerous smoking and using tobacco products can be. In an attempt to quit, some people turn to vaping as a tobacco replacement. But recent studies show that vaping can cause the same health problems, including gum disease, oral cancer, and tooth loss.
The aerosol produced by e-cigarettes is often mistaken for water vapor, but it isn’t. E-cigarettes may not contain tobacco, but the e-liquid, or vapor, contains nicotine. Researchers now believe nicotine itself has a role in causing different types of cancer. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it deprives the gums of oxygen and nutrients. It reduces blood flow to the tissue, essentially suffocating the tissue and killing it. This can cause gum recession, tooth sensitivity, and tooth decay. Vaping liquid base contains propylene glycol, vegetable glycol, and artificial flavorings. Some reports show that e-cigarette vapor contains traces of copper, aluminum, chromium, and more depending on the device used to “vape” from.
Another side effect of e-cigarettes is dry mouth. When the oral tissues dry out, bacteria can flourish, causing tooth decay, bad breath, and gum infections.
This trend doesn’t just affect adults – according to a 2016 report by the U.S. Surgeon General, e-cigarette use among juveniles has risen dramatically since 2011. More high school students are vaping than smoking regular cigarettes. The study also showed that nicotine exposure can affect brain development and lead to addiction, no matter how it’s delivered. This is especially concerning because the human brain is not fully developed until around age 25.
So, why does all this matter when it comes to orthodontics?
For orthodontics to be successful, you must have healthy gums. Gum disease and recession caused by vaping can slow the speed at which teeth move in the bone. This can make treatment take much longer and become more expensive. Diseased tissue also prevents the bone from filling in the areas where teeth have moved from, causing deep periodontal pockets and loose teeth.
Additionally, due to an increased risk of gum disease, relapses after completion of treatment are more common.
Fortunately, the damage caused by vaping is entirely preventable. If you’re considering orthodontic treatment, it’s best not to start using e-cigarettes. Orthodontics is a significant investment of time and money. The long-term damage of vaping can undo years of orthodontic treatment after the fact, creating the need for retreatment – assuming you’re still a healthy candidate for orthodontics after use of these products.
Even if you’re not considering orthodontic treatment, the dangers that e-cigarettes present from tooth decay to lung and/or oral cancer just aren’t worth the risk to your health.