Dentist: Too soon to know side effects of e-cigarettes

Published 1:19 am Friday, March 15, 2019

The use of E-cigarettes and vapes may be detrimental to an individual’s oral health, dentist Gantt Eiland said, but he said that there isn’t enough information to be completely certain.

Dr. Eiland

Stories about vaping causing deteriorating oral health have been frequently shared on social media in recent weeks.

“A lot of what we are seeing defers back to cigarette studies,” Eiland said. “Because for the most part, good science isn’t going to give you a definitive answer. It just hasn’t been around, and the best answer we can give is that we just don’t really know.”

What Eiland does know for sure, is that the active ingredient in e-cigarettes and vapes is nicotine.

“Nicotine has a lot of the similar effects on a body, whether you smoke or vape,” Eiland said. “That is because it is a vasoconstrictor, which means it reduces the nutrient flows to your tissue. Nicotine speeds up your heart rate and constricts your blood vessels, so if you think about your blood, which is where all of your nutrients come from. When you think about your blood vessels constricting, you’re not getting that cleansing of fresh blood in your tissues, so they can just dry out.”

Another thing with the nicotine in these vapes and e-cigarettes is that it is more concentrated than regular tobacco, Eiland said.

“Instead of a more natural amount of nicotine that you get in regular tobacco, you get this manufactured amount that they can concentrate into the liquid formula,” Eiland said. “When you get this higher dose of nicotine, you are more likely to have an increased likelihood of dependency.”

One popular aspect of the vapes and e-cigarettes is the flavoring that comes with, but with the flavoring, comes sugar, Eiland said.

“The flavorings in these juices in an e-cigarette contain sugar to make them sweet,” Eiland said. “Obviously that sugar will cause cavities.”

Recently, a 24-year-old man from Texas was killed when his vape pen exploded, and part of the device wound up severing his jugular vein. Although these types of sensationalized deaths are rare with e-cigarettes and vaping pens, with only two reported to date, the explosions of these pens are not.

“There have been several reports of these vapes blowing up,” Eiland said. “And of course, when these things blow up, they are in your mouth. If that happens, you could have permanent scarring across your face, cheeks and lips, you could lose some of your taste because of trauma to your tongue. Worst case scenario, you could die.”

The bottom line for vaping and oral health, Eiland said, is that it will dry out people’s mouths, increase their likelihood of nicotine dependency, expose them to different types of sugars and increase the risk of cavities.

“When I’m asked if vaping is healthier than cigarette smoking, I have to defer to the American Heart Association’s answer, which is no,” Eiland said. “There is no clear answer because there are not enough studies on the topic, so I have to go with the American Heart Association’s answer.”