Sales of electronic cigarettes have surged in recent years, as more first-time smokers and former cigarette smokers turn to vaping, believing e-cigarettes to be safer than standard, tobacco cigarettes.
However, new research suggests that e-cigarettes may be as bad for your oral health as traditional cigarettes. The findings of a recently published study provide the first scientific evidence of a link between electronic cigarettes and gum tissue damage, which may contribute to periodontal disease and other health concerns.
Where There’s Smoke, There’s Gum Inflammation
The study in question was conducted by researchers with the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York and focused on measuring cellular and molecular changes in the gums when exposed to e-cigarette vapors.
The health risks associated with cigarettes are often pinned solely on the chemicals they contain, which include nicotine. The chemicals are inhaled into the lungs, and many are exhaled back into the air around us (thus the dangers of second-hand smoke). But the University of Rochester study and other recent research indicate that the smoke from regular cigarettes and the vapors from e-cigarettes may prompt dangerous reactions in the body as well.
Scientists learned that exposing gum tissue to e-cigarette vapors sparked the release of inflammatory proteins. These particular proteins strain the cells and cause cellular damage that can lead to gum disease and other dental health issues. The extent of gum damage is also tied to the frequency and volume of e-cigarette use, according to the study.
Flavoring Leaves a Bad Taste
E-cigarettes typically use tiny, liquid-filled cartridges that contain nicotine and other chemicals. Flavored cartridges are also available and contain a host of additional additives.
The University of Rochester research team discovered that the vapors from flavored e-cigarette cartridges led to more severe cellular damage than vapor from unflavored cartridges. Some flavors resulted in worse damage than others, although the reason is unclear.
The findings of the study were published in October in the journal Oncotarget. Because electronic cigarettes have only been available in the United States since 2007, research probing their long-range health effects is limited and in progress.
Treating Gum Disease
Gum disease is a common oral health ailment, and it is not limited to smokers. Untreated gum disease can eventually contribute to or affect the severity of health problems beyond the mouth, including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Fortunately, periodontal disease is also treatable. Many patients are able to halt periodontal disease and restore healthy gums with Perio Protect®. This innovative, noninvasive treatment uses comfortable dental trays to deliver medication to the gums.
Austin dentist Dr. Dan Matthews understands the importance of a beautiful, healthy smile to your overall well-being and your sense of self. If you’re unhappy with the state of your smile and would like to learn more about cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry treatments, please call the Bee Cave Road office of Dan Matthews, DDS, at 512-452-2273 to schedule your free consultation.