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Vaping and It’s Potential Risks
What is Vaping?
Vaping is the common term of using a handheld electronic device that vaporizes a flavored liquid for inhalation. This new fad, especially in our youth population, is increasing in popularity. What many people may not know is, most vaping liquids on the market contain nicotine derived from the tobacco plant. Pens, hookah pens, and electronic cigarettes are all types of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and are available to purchase by the American public. These devices are comprised of three basic parts – a battery, a cartridge containing the vaping liquid, and a heating element.
It is easy to see why electronic cigarettes would appear as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes as it does not appear to contribute to tooth discoloration, plaque build-up, or bad breath. In fact, many people use them as a replacement when trying to quit smoking. However, e-cigarettes have not yet been fully studied and, therefore, consumers are unable to accurately determine the potential risks. The amount of nicotine and other prospectively harmful chemicals that are being inhaled during use is uncertain at this time. It is also unknown if this is a viable way to ‘cut down’ on traditional cigarette use or the beginnings of a new health risk.
Effects Vaporized Nicotine has on Oral Health:
• Whether nicotine is delivered via traditional cigarette, or otherwise, it harms the mouth, gums, and tongue. It can also contribute to the development of both gingivitis and periodontitis. And, there is the potential for gum disease which causes inflammation to develop throughout the body.
• It is imperative to include your intake of all nicotine products on your medical history form. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it constricts blood vessels, resulting in reduced blood flow. And as oxygen and nutrients are both vital for gums to stay healthy, nicotine consumption oftentimes makes it more difficult for Dr. Hochberg and Dr. Diora to diagnose gum disease. When bleeding gums aren’t present it may deceive the patient into believing they are in great periodontal health. However, if the progression of gum disease can’t be properly recognized, observed, and diagnosed, oral health can worsen without the proper treatment. Since nicotine masks the more obvious symptoms, your dental hygienist will also take a “pocket reading.” Pockets are essentially the space (or pocket) around each of your teeth. Deeper pockets may indicate that there is a breakdown of the gums to the teeth and can also be a tell-tale sign that gum disease is present.
• Nicotine also inhibits your body’s natural ability to produce saliva. Bacteria buildup, dry mouth, and tooth decay are all potential risks of inefficient lubrication.
More research will need to be done to fully understand the impact vaping can have on one’s overall oral health. However, we do know use of a nicotine product isn’t a good habit to begin. The safest recommendation to keep a beautiful and healthy smile is abstinence.
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